India’s antitrust body orders Google inquiry after news publishers complain

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London
FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

January 7, 2022

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s competition watchdog on Friday ordered an investigation into Alphabet Inc’s Google following allegations from news publishers, saying its initial view was that the tech giant had broken some antitrust laws.

In its order, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google dominates certain online search services in the country and may have imposed unfair conditions on news publishers.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The complainant, Digital News Publishers Association, which comprises the digital arms of some of India’s biggest media companies, said Google denied fair advertising revenue to its members.

“In a well-functioning democracy, the critical role played by news media cannot be undermined,” the CCI order said. “It appears that Google is using its dominant position in the relevant markets to enter/protect its position in the market for news aggregation service.”

News organisations, which have been losing advertising revenue to online aggregators such as Google, have complained for years about tech companies using stories in search results or other features without payment.

The CCI order also mentioned new rules in France and Australia – fuelled by media lobbying and public pressure – that have led to licensing deals around the world collectively worth billions of dollars.

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; editing by Barbara Lewis)