News Corp, Axel Springer Applaud $2.7 Billion Fine Levied Against Google

Robert Thomson - 2015 NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony - Getty - H 2017
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The European Commission penalized the tech giant for violating antitrust rules.

Major media companies have a well-documented love-hate relationship with tech giants like Google and Facebook. While publishers rely on both companies for distribution, and share digital advertising revenue with both, there are some in the media industry who believe the companies are enjoying a one-sided relationship. Some of these companies have whispered quietly about taking collective action against Google and Facebook, but nothing has materialized yet in the U.S.

Considering the antipathy felt toward Google and Facebook, it didn't come as a total surprise that some companies that operate in Europe celebrated the announcement Tuesday that the European Commission has fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly prioritizing in search results the company's own comparison shopping service.

"We applaud the European Commission’s leadership in confronting the discriminatory behavior of Google in the comparison shopping industry," News Corp said in a statement. "Other regulators and companies have been intimidated by Google’s overwhelming might, but the Commission has taken a strong stand and we hope that this is the first step in remedying Google’s shameless abuse of its dominance in search."

In the statement, News Corp, which publishes newspapers in the U.K. and the U.S., called out "the abuse of algorithms by dominant digital platforms" and said that "Google has profited from commodifying content and enabling the proliferation of flawed and fake news."

At a journalism conference in Italy last week, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson told a crowd that he has "algorithm angst" and said the skew in algorithms is "immense."

European publisher Axel Springer, another longtime thorn in the side of Google in Europe, also spoke out Tuesday about the decision. "The Commission’s decision is a signal that the abuse of a very dominant market position as a utility doesn’t pay off in the long run," Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "Next, we have to constructively build a fair and healthy ecosystem between technology platforms and content companies. In that sense, perhaps this decision marks a turning point towards the positive.”

While Tuesday's decision won't likely have a major impact on media companies like News Corp and Springer, companies that have long been angling for a fight to curb Google's market advantages will likely see the ruling as a step in the right direction.

Google announced that it is considering an appeal.