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'Parasitic' Google feels TV's wrath

What has Sergey ever done for us?

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Your reporter holds TV executives in as much esteem as a flesh-eating virus. But even in the uniquely clueless world of television, they're finally waking up to Google's 'parasitic' nature. C4 chief Andy Duncan has become the latest to awake from his slumber. The problem? Duncan's "cure" will probably only make Google stronger.

Duncan says that Google sucks billions out of the UK economy without making so much as a 30-second trailer in return. Duncan followed Michael Grade - who used the 'P' word - in voicing the criticism.

"Google should pay for content that it uses. The burden of responsibility should be on it to identify the people whose content it is using and make sure they are being paid for it, rather than expecting other people to point it out," Duncan said.

Duncan also argued that because Google books so much advertising revenue it should regulated. This is muddle-headed and misses the point. In fact the call for regulation is likely to make Google stronger - at C4's ultimate expense.

Contrary to what the company says, Google is in fact quite keen on regulation - when it hampers Google's opponents. The giant ad broker helped orchestrate the historic move to create a "rule book" of technical mandates for the internet - something that would have had politicians vilified by digital rights activist groups. Google has even has succeeded in persuading the US telecomms regulator the FCC to adopt them, and has sneaked them onto the Brussels agenda, we revealed a fortnight ago.

By replacing the historical anarchy of the internet with mandates on what access networks can and can't do, Google makes its own private content delivery network (CDN) more valuable - and restricts the opportunity for access networks to create services based on the content that flows over the pipes. So the access networks gradually become dumb bit-pipe providers, and worthless. Therefore the market falls into Google's pure and innocent hands.

(And the company must be pure of heart - because it says it is.)

Unless they're careful, in pushing for advertising regulation for Google TV executives are likely to usher in the technical regulation that makes Google invincible.

We should also note that it's not quite true that Google doesn't hire people who make content. Recently it recruited the editor of the BBC's flagship nightly current affairs programme Newsnight, Peter Barron.

But Barron is not employed in content creation, but as a spin doctor. He joins 120 others in the UK PR team - what some would call lying for a living. ®

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