NMA Welcomes Decision To Sanction Google For Failure To Pay For Content

The News Media Association has welcomed the French Competition Authority’s decision to sanction Google for its conduct in relation to publishers.

The NMA said: “Robust regulation of the tech giants is urgently needed to level the playing field between news publishers and the platforms. We will continue to urge the UK Government to take action to tackle the impact of the platforms on news publishers.”

The NMA has long called for legislation in the UK to curb the harmful practices of the tech giants to protect the quality and plurality of journalism in the UK.

The French Competition Authority flagged Google’s failure to comply with multiple obligations, notably failure to enter into good faith negotiations; failure to communicate to press publishers the necessary information assess the fairness of renumeration proposals and failure to observe a neutrality principle by linking renumeration under the Publishers’ Right to participation in Google products (such as Google Showcase).

The Authority also found that Google narrowed the scope of negotiations by excluding press agency content and specialised press’ publications, even though these publications are protected by the neighbouring right.

The Authority concluded that Google’s behaviour amounts to “violations of an exceptionally serious nature” delaying even further the enforcement of the Press Publishers’ Right.

The Authority’s decision allows French publishers power to obtain more information from tech giants to assess their content value. Google could also be fined a further €900,000 per day if they continue to fail to comply. Press publishers in France have been calling on the Authority for some time to secure improved terms from Google on payment for content.

Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority, said: “At the end of an in-depth investigation, the Autorité found that Google had not complied with several injunctions issued in April 2020.

“The fine of 500 million euros takes into account the exceptional seriousness of the infringements observed and how Google’s behaviour has led to further delay the proper implementation of the law on related rights, which aimed to better take into account the value of content from press publishers and agencies included on the platforms.

“The Autorité will be extremely vigilant on the proper application of its decision, as non-execution can now lead to periodic penalty payment.”

Following the decision, European publishers continue to insist on establishing regulation, via the Digital Markets Act, to tackle “market dominant gatekeeping platforms granting non-discriminatory access of all legal publications and offerings” along with “a regulatory binding mechanism obliging market dominant platforms to negotiate with all rightsholders of the publishers’ right fair payment for their content.”