CCI orders another probe against Google

New Delhi : The Competition Commission has ordered another detailed probe against Google for alleged unfair revenue sharing terms with respect to news content.

The case will be clubbed with two other ongoing matters against the search engine major where the allegations are substantially same, according to the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

The latest order has come on a complaint filed by the News Broadcasters & Digital Association.

In January this year, CCI ordered a probe against Google on the complaint filed by the Digital News Publishers Association. Later, the Indian Newspaper Society also filed a similar case and that was clubbed with the first one.

Now, the regulator’s probe arm Director General (DG) will submit a consolidated investigation report, the watchdog said in an order released on Friday.

The News Broadcasters & Digital Association had alleged that its members are forced to provide their news content to Google in order to prioritise their weblinks in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) of Google. As a result, Google free rides on the content of the members without giving them adequate compensation, as per the complaint.

Among others, it was alleged that Google exploited the dependency of the members on the search engine offered by Google for referral-traffic to build services such as Google News, Google Discover and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

The search engine major provides news content to user through Google Search and through news aggregator vertical, Google News.

According to the complaint, in Google Search, users can either search directly for news through News Tab or receive news through result in SERPs. Google incorporated news content in its SERPs through featured snippets including ‘Top Stories’ carousels.

However, the revenue distributed by Google to news publishers doesn’t compensate for the real contribution made by the association’s members to these platforms, it added.

In a four-page order, dated October 6 and released on Friday, CCI said the allegations are substantially the same as that of the matter which is already being probed by the regulator.

CCI has directed the DG to club the matters and submit a consolidated investigation report.

Cases where there is prima-facie evidence of violation of competition norms are referred by CCI to its investigation arm DG for a detailed probe.

The complaint has been filed against Alphabet Inc, Google LLC, Google India Pvt Ltd, Google Ireland Ltd and Google Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

The association consists of national and regional private news and current affairs broadcasters and digital news media entities as its members.