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Allegations Against Google by the NBDA

Context:

Recently, the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against search-engine operator Google, alleging that the latter had deprived them of their justifiable revenue acquired from news dissemination on the tech-giant’s platforms.

  • The complaint would be clubbed with similar cases filed by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in February this year and the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) last year.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About NBDA
  2. What are the key allegations?
  3. Why is Google dominant?

About NBDA

  • The News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA) [Formerly known as News Broadcasters Association (NBA)] represents the private television news, current affairs and digital broadcasters.
  • It is the collective voice of the news, current affairs and digital broadcasters in India.
  •  It is an organization funded entirely by its members.
  • The NBDA has presently 26 leading news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 119 news and current affairs channels) as its members.
  • The NBDA presents a unified and credible voice before the Government, on matters that affect the growing industry. 
Objectives of the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA)
  • To promote, protect and secure the interests including the right of freedom of speech and expression of the news broadcasters, digital news media and other related entities.
  • To promote awareness about the latest developments in the media industry relating to television news broadcasters, digital news media and to disseminate knowledge amongst its Members and the general public regarding such developments.
  • To provide for the Members a place of meeting so as to enable them to work in consensus to achieve common goals for the overall betterment of their industry and to have a common platform/forum at which they may air their grievances and arrive at solutions.
  • To promote the growth of friendly relations amongst the Members and amongst persons engaged in the production and broadcasting of television/media software and to encourage co-operation among the Members so as to maximize mutual benefits.
  • To protect all its Members from persons or entities who carry on unfair and/or unethical practices or who discredit the television news broadcasters, digital news media and other related entities.
  • No objects of the Company will be carried out without obtaining prior approval/ NOC from the concerned authority, wherever required.
  • None of the main objects shall be carried out on commercial basis.

What are the key allegations?

  • Google has been found to be dominant in both markets of relevance to digital publishers — online web search services and digital advertising services.
  • A news website sells advertising spaces on its platform through ad-exchanges.
  • In addition to this, Google also operates a platform that manages a publisher’s sale of online ads and tools to purchase display ad space.
  • The central contestation among the parties holds that the tech-giant has not compensated news publishers for their contribution to (Google’s various) platforms and has engaged in practices to bolster its monopoly in the space.
  • The DNPA had put forth that website publishers receive only 51% of the advertisement revenue.
  • It has been alleged that owing to the tech-giant’s dominance in the space, publishers have been “forced” to integrate content on their platforms.
  • They have no other alternative but to trade in the company’s exchanges and use its buying tool, Google Ads/DV 360, to receive bids from advertisers.

Why is Google dominant?

  • As per the NBDA, Google’s search engine commands a 94% market share in the country.
  • The number becomes all the more crucial for news publishers with the increased transition toward news consumption online (inclusive of app-based consumption).
  • The traditional newspaper industry in India has sustained itself on a business model wherein advertising accounts for two-third of its total revenue.
  • On similar lines, with online proliferation, there is an increased reliance of news publishers on digital ad revenues, and in turn, tech-based companies.
  • More than half of the total traffic on news websites is routed through Google.
  • The search engine, by way of its algorithms and internal quality vetting, determines which news websites would be prioritised in search queries.
  • Essential to understand here is that search engines are an important determinant in online news consumption.
  • Readers would more often opt for an online web search rather than reaching out to a specific news website by typing its URL in a browser.
  • This has made search-engines the first port of call for information online.

-Source: The Hindu


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