The German antitrust agency “Federal Cartel Office” (FCO) said today that in order to avoid further antitrust investigations, Google had been proposed to remove its news service dubbed News Showcase from search results.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office announced that it had decided to launch a broader antitrust investigation into Google and its parent company Alphabet under the authority granted by the latest antitrust law. The Federal Cartel Office also said at the time that it was already investigating Google’s use of personal data more intensively, as well as its “News Showcase” news service.
“Since January 2021, we have a new instrument for supervising large digital corporations,” said Andreas Mundt, who heads the office. “After less than a year, we have now taken the first formal decision on the basis of this regulation and established that Google has a preeminent cross-market significance.”
“Partnering with Google could attract publishers and other news providers and provide consumers with better information services”, the Federal Cartel Office said. However, it must be ensured that the process does not discriminate against individual publishers. Google’s strong position in reaching end customers cannot force other news publishers or providers out of the competition.
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What is News Showcase
News Showcase launched by Google in October 2020 has signed cooperation agreements with nearly 1000 publishers around the world. They agreed to provide content for a fee. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in 2020 that he plans to invest $1 billion in three years to promote the development of News Showcase.
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In fact, as early as last June, the Federal Cartel Office launched an antitrust investigation into the Google News Showcase. Everything began after Corint Media’s complaint. The latter manages the rights of German television and radio stations.
Cartel Office has serious doubts that Google’s deal with publishers could make many news providers remain out of competition. This basically refers to the Showcase results. There is every reason to think the search engine can use it and give an unfair advantage to select publishers.
Of course, Google insists that access to Showcase was based on objective criteria.
Google Will Do Its Best To Figure Out The Situation
In its turn, Google said it does its best and works closely with the Cartel Office to find the right approach as efficiently as possible.
“We have already made some adjustments and proposed further improvements. We will also address further questions,” it said, adding that it would continue to work on its Showcase offering.
The regulator said that the investigation will now consult with Corint Media and many other publishers to assess whether Google’s proposal would be effective.