Murdoch media calls on ACCC to break up Google’s market dom…

Failing a sell-off, the news publisher called for Google’s business units to be “functionally” separated and closely regulated to prevent abuse of market power.

“Google’s position as ‘gatekeeper’ via Google Search and its market power in the ‘ad tech stack’ creates real and serious threats to the ability of publishers such as News Corp Australia to generate sufficient returns in order to viably fund news and journalism,” it said.

With its call to break up the tech giant, News Corp has made itself an unlikely ally on the issue with United States Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, who last week called for the break-up of big tech companies.

“Google enjoys overwhelming market power in both online search and ad tech services and is abusing its dominant position to the detriment of consumers, advertisers and publishers,” News Corp said.

A central News Corp gripe targets Google’s use of “snippets” – excerpts of publisher-created content including text, images and video – that appear in Google’s search results.

The ACCC’s preliminary report found the use of snippets did not adversely affect click-through rates, but New Corp disagreed, saying the ACCC should “increase regulation”, which could include “requiring digital platforms to compensate publishers for the use of the content”.

Google’s advertising power, through its “ad tech supply chain”, is also in News Corp’s sights. The company said Google shut out competition by referencing its own “advertising services for ad servers and ad exchanges, and resulted in harm to advertisers and publishers”.

The Australian outpost of the Murdoch global media empire that owns The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal wants the ACCC to band with international regulators to break up Google.

“Any solution must be bold. As we previously explained in our previous submissions, Google’s prior conduct reveals a pattern of avoiding and undermining regulatory initiatives and ignoring private contractual arrangements,” News Corp said.

“While we recognise that the truly global nature of digital platforms like Google mean that some of the proposed remedies in this submission may require some co-ordination among governments internationally to be truly effective, we do not believe the ACCC should shy away from taking action or making such recommendations.”

The company flags this market intervention should not be applied across the media industry; rather, this measure should be “limited to Google”, it says.

On Tuesday night, ACCC chairman Rod Sims declined to comment on the News Corp submission, saying the watchdog “would not be hosting a running commentary as submissions to the inquiry come in”.

Zoomd Reports

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