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Publishers reject Google's revised offer to fix search biz in Europe

Proposal will not restore competition, lobby group argues

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Google's revised package of concessions to try to fix a three-year-long competition probe in Europe relating to the ad giant's dominant search biz has been attacked by a group of publishers.

The lobby outfit, which represents newspaper and magazine publishers across the EU said it was "highly concerned" by how Brussels' officials were handling the investigation.

The group claimed that Google's new set of behind-closed-door commitments, which were recently leaked to The Register by a unnamed party, would have a dire impact on Europe's digital economy.

The publishers argued that Google had not offered European regulators any "acceptable" options, thus forcing their hand towards a"prohibition decision".

"Google persists in giving preferential treatments to its own services and in displaying every alternative service as inferior, even if they are in fact more relevant to consumers," said Helmut Heinen of the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers.

"It also shows no willingness to present acceptable solutions regarding the unauthorised use of publishers’ content, although this is crucial for Europe’s creative content industries."

He added: "Since Google’s latest commitment proposals do not contain any significant improvement, the Commission is left with no other choice than to reject a settlement and to turn to the traditional route of a prohibition decision."

Complainants in the case have until the end of November to respond to a list of 15 questions that were issued by officials from competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia's office.

Late last month, Google moaned about its rivals' gripes.

It said: "Unfortunately, our competitors seem less interested in resolving things than in entangling us in a never-ending dispute." ®

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