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Google offers to exclude News Showcase in Germany from search results to end investigation

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Google offered to exclude its “Google News Showcase” service from general search results in Germany to end an investigation by the local antitrust regulator, the authority said on Wednesday.

“Google has proposed measures to respond to our competition concerns,” Federal Cartel Authority chairman Andreas Mund said in a statement.

“The company no longer plans to include showcase content in general search results,” Mund said.

The regulator said it will now consult in the press publishing sector to determine whether the measures are “in line with the purpose”.

When contacted by AFP, Google did not immediately comment on the matter.

Launched in the German market in 2020, Google News Showcase provides publishers with the opportunity to place journalistic content more prominently online.

The American tech giant plans to integrate the new platform into its core search results, thereby multiplying the audience for the content.

The regulator launched an investigation after a complaint was filed by Corint Media, the publishing group that manages the rights of radio and television stations as well as online news sites.

The publisher feared that newsgroups that had not signed a contract with Google would see their content removed in search results.

The integration of Google News Showcase into search results was “clearly designed to focus users’ attention on the new Google-owned news service and its press content”, Corint said in a statement when the inquiry began.

“It disrespectfully exploits Google’s quasi-monopoly position in the search engine market by not participating in the service of press publishers,” the group said.

The regulator also examined whether publishers who entered into an agreement with Google would be prevented from fully enforcing their so-called neighborly rights that would allow outlets to demand compensation for the use of their content.

The negotiations on Showcase will be “markedly different from ongoing negotiations regarding other ancillary copyright payments”, the regulator said.

Google also assured that access to the Service would be based on “objective criteria”, and would not discriminate between publishers for other, namely financial, reasons.

The announcement comes days after the regulator classified Google as a company of “paramount importance across markets”, leading to increased monitoring of the tech giant.


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