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CCI probing Google’s dominance in news aggregation space

India’s anti-trust agency Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered a fresh investigation against tech giant Google for its alleged “abuse of dominance in news aggregation”.

The complaint was filed by Digital News Publishers Association, which promotes and protects the interest of digital news publishers.

The association said that a majority of the traffic on news websites comes from online search engines (more than 50%), wherein Google is claimed to be the most dominant search engine.

Based on the same, it was stated that 50% of the total traffic on the news websites is routed through Google and, being the dominant player in this field, Google, by way of its algorithms, determines which news website gets discovered via search.

The association said its members, being engaged in the business of news media, have always endeavoured to provide credible and fact-checked news, which is the bedrock of any democracy, but with the emergence of digital news media and the pandemic, there have been serious disruptions.

The complainant stated that news media companies create the context for the audience to interface with the advertiser, but online search engines like Google end up leveraging the revenue and returns much more than publishers.

It has been contended that Google not only has a monopolistic position with regard to search in India, it also has a very strong position in advertising intermediation and controls the major share at each level.

It was also alleged that Google is the major stakeholder in the digital advertising space, and it unilaterally decides the amount to be paid to the publishers for the content created by them, as well as the terms on which the amount has to be paid.

Accordingly, the CCI has directed the Director General (DG) to do an investigation into the matter under the provisions of Section 26(1) of the Act. The CCI has also directed the DG to complete the investigation and submit the report in 60 days from the date of receipt of the order. Livemint

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