News Corp Australia asks government competition watchdog there to recommend Google be broken up

Rupert Murdoch's media empire has launched an attack on Google on the Australian flank of the global giant's operations.

John Rolfe of the News Corp Australia Network (behind paywall, but readable here):

AUSTRALIA'S competition watchdog has been urged to recommend Google be broken up.

The call is contained in a new submission by News Corp Australia to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's digital platforms inquiry.

It is believed to be the first time a major media company anywhere in the world has suggested Google be split into different businesses.

It comes as regulators and politicians around the globe look to the ACCC inquiry – also a first – for ideas on how to grapple with Google's growing dominance.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) already is conducting an investigation into the impact of search engines, social media platforms, and content-aggregators "on the supply of news and journalistic content and the implications of this for media content creators, advertisers and consumers."

Unlike the testimony that has been presented to the American Congress, the News Corp submission focuses not just on the filtering function of these giants, giving or taking away distribution for content, but also on the economic impact.

[T]he News submission says Google acts not only as the gateway to the internet and news content but as an "intermediator" between readers and publishers, ensuring any 'clicks' result in revenue generation for Google – at the expense of publishers.

News's submission says "in order to prevent the further erosion of incentives to invest in quality content and sustainability of journalism, a number of legislative or regulatory interventions should be considered" – references to concepts it has previously floated including an algorithm review board and imposing fees for hosting content.

However News now says these are no longer the best ways to ensure Google does not operate its search function in an "exclusionary manner".

"Google's prior conduct suggests that more permanent and possibly structural interventions would better preserve the incentives for continued investment in journalism," News says.

A skirmish on the other side of the planet may not gather much media attention here, at least not yet, but it has the potential to spark other moves elsewhere in the economically free world.

Hat tip: John McMahon

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