Feeds

Google probed by Italy's anti-trust arm

FIEG you

Top three mobile application threats

Italy's anti-trust watchdog is investigating Google's treatment of local newspapers on the Italian versions of its news site and search engine.

On Thursday, as reported by Reuters, the country's competition authority announced its Google probe after a complaint from the Italian Federation of Newspaper Editors (FIEG). According to the complaint, if a publisher chooses not to appear on the Italian version of Google News, Google will automatically exclude them from its primary search engine as well.

Various Italian newspapers feel that when their stories turn up on Google News, this damages their ability to "attract users and advertisers to their own home pages." But apparently, they don't feel the same way about Google's main search engine.

At best, this makes almost no sense. You could certainly argue that as an über-middleman, Google cuts into the ad revenue a newspaper can collect, and some sharp minds have certainly done so. But excluding yourself from Google News isn't going to help this problem. And even if you're convinced that it will, surely you would apply the same twisted logic to Google's main search engine.

Nonetheless, the newspapers want to appear on Google Search but not on Google News. And according to the complaint, Google won't let them.

When we asked Google for comment on the Italian probe, it pointed us to a blog post where the company says it's still reviewing the complaint. The post explains that newspapers can remove themselves from Google News at any time. And naturally, Google continues to make the argument that Google News actually increases traffic to third-party news sites.

"We respect the wishes of content owners, which is why we've made it easy to opt out of our services," writes Google's Josh Cohen. "However, when it comes to Google News, we have far more requests for inclusion than for removal. That's because publishers understand that the traffic generated by Google News, and services like it, provide valuable traffic: Google News sends over 1 billion clicks per month to news publishers."

But Cohen does not address the accusation that Google is systematically excluding papers from its search engine if they opt out of the Italian Google News.

The Italian Federation of Newspaper Editors includes the country's two largest newspaper outfits: RCS MediaGroup and L'Espresso. Earlier this year, the two inked a deal to pool their online advertising in an effort to boost revenues, and now they're desperately hoping to boost revenue in other ways.

No word on whether a horse's head has appeared in Google's bed. ®

Update

A Google spokesman now tells us that "if news organizations ask us to remove them as a source in Google News, the Google web search algorithm will not treat them any differently."

One wonders if Italian newspapers have noticed that if they're removed from Google News, they no longer turn up in the Google News-powered news results that show up on Google's main search engine.

In which case, their complaint makes even less sense than we thought

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.