EMMA

Google's abusive self-preference must end to ensure a thriving free and independent press on digital platforms

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

#emma

European press publishers react to news of latest commitment proposal by Google in EU anti-trust case

Brussels, 5th February 2014 – Reacting to European Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia’s announcement today, European press publishers are greatly concerned that the Commission appears to be moving quickly towards a settlement in the Google anti-trust case, despite lack of evidence that the latest proposals from the company will end its abuse of dominant position in the digital market.

Despite many months of behind-the-scenes discussions with the European Commission, Google’s proposals to date do not preclude the company’s abusive promotion of its own services, but would actually legalise such self-preference. Google will also still be free to downgrade rivals at its own discretion. Neither do the proposals counter the company’s continued and indeed increased unauthorised use of third party content.

European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA) and European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) call on the European Commission to ensure a fully open and transparent process. The European press organisations, in support of the complainants Spanish Association of Daily Newspaper Publishers (AEDE), the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ), strongly believe that a commitment decision in this case would seriously prejudice EU competition law, an essential pillar of the EU treaty. 

ENPA President Ivar Rusdal said: “If the Commission were to endorse Google’s anti-competitive behaviour of Google, it would be a devastating blow to the future development and sustainability not only of the independent press sector, but European creative industries as a whole. Legitimising Google’s practices would seriously threaten Europe’s core democratic values, such as press freedom, media pluralism and consumer access to information.”

EMMA President, David Hanger, said: “It is essential for the legacy of the Barroso II Commission that this case seriously considers the economic impact on European businesses, including our sector. We have continuously criticised the lack of acceptable solutions proposed by Google’s commitments, which would even increase the level of infringement of EU competition rules and therefore further entrench Google’s abuse of its dominant position on the European digital market.”

Press publishers are specifically calling for: 

  • - equal search and display criteria for all websites, including Google's own services and content introduced through Google’s Knowledge Graph;
  • - no use of content from press publishers (newspaper, magazine and online publishers) beyond what is truly indispensable for navigation purposes in the horizontal search without prior consent;
  • - an option to mark information on an item-by-item-basis in a machine-readable way in order to express permissions and restrictions for use of that respective content;
  • - no direct or indirect punishment of websites that restrict the use of their content; and
  • - no preferential treatment of news aggregators compared to online press portals.

After all we have seen and heard today from the Commission, the third set of proposals still contains the same fundamental flaws of the previous versions rendering them, at best useless. ENPA and EMMA therefore call upon the European Commission to keep its word and to return to a traditional route of a prohibition decision that puts an effective end to Google`s various abusive practices.

European newspaper and magazine publishers are therefore ready to give their detailed response to the Commission, as soon as the latest proposal has been forwarded to the complainants in the case.  

For further information contact: 

Max von Abendroth
Executive Director, EMMA

max.abendroth@magazinemedia.eu
+32 2 536 06 07  


Francine Cunningham
Executive Director, ENPA

francine.cunningham@enpa.be
+32 2 5510196

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