Governments' Google problem 'partly that they don't comply'

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The only way to save quality journalism from Google's meddling may be to break it up, News Corp Australia says in an ACCC submission.

In its second submission to Australia's Digital Platforms inquiry, News says that Google's "prior conduct" suggests that legislative or regulatory interventions may not be enough to prevent further erosion of incentives to invest in quality content and sustainability of journalism.

In the circumstances, "more permanent and possibly structural interventions" would be better.

The 18-page submission by Frontier Economics' Philip Williams on behalf of News Corp is a response to that of Henry Ergas, Jonathan Pincus and Sabine Schnittger, titled 'Impact of news aggregators on public interest journalism in Australia'.

Williams says the 'Ergas Report' ignores the impact of Google Search on publishers and the way in which it intermediates between publishers, advertisers and consumers to benefit Google's own business model at the expense of publishers.

And claims the "poor track record" (quoting the Ergas report) of overseas government interventions is in part due to Google's own conduct in refusing to comply with such regulatory initiatives.

Williams says Ergas' suggestion that internet news aggregators don't reduce

production of public interest journalism; its claim that there is no proof that increasing digitisation has aggravated the problem; and that "markets may well produce a socially optimal supply of public interest journalism" is based on "unclear or confused" reasoning.

The News submission concludes that Google is "an unavoidable trading partner" and is exercising its dominance in search to thwart original publishers' attempts to monetise their own content.

See the News Corp Australia submission here

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