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Dozens of European media companies claim Google has deprived them of 2.1 billion in ad revenue. The tech company is accused of abuse of power.

The group of media companies comes from 13 different European countries. Axel Springer, publisher of Politico, is also part of this collective. “Without Google’s abuse of power, these companies would have generated significantly higher revenue from ads,” argue law firms Geradin Partners and Stek, which represent the group.

The group alleges that Google favours its own ad tools over alternative options. Those options include tools from a number of media companies themselves.

Earlier fines for abuse of power

If the ruling is in favour of the media companies, it would be far from the first time Google has had to pay a hefty sum for an antitrust violation. For example, the group of media companies reminds us that Google already settled a €220 million case in France over alleged malpractices surrounding its advertising platform in 2021. In addition, Google received a €2.4 billion fine for favouring Google Shopping over its competitors.

Colluding and antagonizing

Despite the possibility of Google being found guilty of abuse of power, it should be said that the media companies themselves are not small companies in their own right. Many news organizations have been consolidated largely as a result of dwindling ad revenu. By joining forces, these media companies hope to be able to form a united front against Google, but smaller organizations face issues competing against these collectives, too. In other words, the dominant position of these media companies can also be criticized, even if there is currently no legal basis to dismantle or challenge them.

In addition, Google typically generates a lot of traction for these media companies, among others, with its News offering. Although this service has been blocked for years in Spain and threatened to disappear in Canada, many news organizations advocate its continued existence. So Google’s dominance can work both ways, making it uncertain that a court ruling will help media companies too much in the long run.

Also read: OpenAI makes ‘bizarre’ claim that The New York Times hacked ChatGPT