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Why Germany Dropped Its Antitrust Probe Into Google’s News Product

Germany’s antitrust regulator said Wednesday it had shelved an investigation into Google’s News Showcase service, after the tech giant made “important adjustments” to ease competition concerns.

The decision comes after Google earlier this year made a major concession by offering to exclude “Google News Showcase” content from its general search results.

“Google has responded to our concerns and implemented important adjustments to the benefit of publishers,” said Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.

“It will continue to be irrelevant for the ranking of the search results whether or not a publisher participates in Showcase.”

Contacted by AFP, Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Launched in 2020, the “Google News Showcase” allows participating publishers to present their journalistic content more prominently on a designated platform.

But Germany’s antitrust watchdog opened an inquiry last year after a complaint was filed by the publishing group Corint Media, which manages the rights of radio and television stations, as well as online news sites.

The publisher feared that news groups that had not signed an agreement with Google would see their content relegated in search results.

In response to the probe, Google announced last January that it would abandon its plan to integrate the Showcase stories in its general search results.

Google also clarified that Showcase partners would still be able to fully exercise their so-called neighbouring rights, which allow media outlets to demand compensation for use of their content, the regulator said.

Big tech companies such as Alphabet-owned Google, Meta and Amazon are facing increasing scrutiny from regulators around the globe over their dominant positions.

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office in January classed Google as a company of “paramount significance across markets”, paving the way for the authorities to clamp down on any potentially anti-competitive activities.

It still has a probe open into Google Maps, over concerns that the platform’s built-in restrictions were giving it an unfair advantage over competitors.

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