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US Newspaper Chain Gannett Sues Google, Says Tech Giant Holds Monopoly on Online Ads

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Gannett, the largest US newspaper chain, on Tuesday sued Google, accusing the social media company of violating federal antitrust law by trying to monopolize the market for online advertising.

The publisher of USA Today and more than 200 daily newspapers in a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan said media are suffering because Google and its parent Alphabet monopolize tools for buying and selling online ads.

Gannett said this forces publishers to sell more ad space to Google at depressed prices, resulting in “dramatically less revenue for publishers and Google’s ad-tech rivals, while Google enjoys exorbitant monopoly profits.”

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Gannett is seeking unspecified damages.

It filed its lawsuit five months after the US Department of Justice brought a similar lawsuit against Google over the Mountain View, California-based company’s advertising technology.

On June 14, the European Union filed its own case, and said Google might have to sell some of its advertising technology.

Google generated $224.5 billion (roughly Rs. 18,42,777 crore) of advertising revenue in 2022, accounting for nearly 80 percent of Alphabet’s overall revenue, and posted an overall $60 billion (roughly Rs. 4,92,506 crore) profit.

Advertising allows Google to offer many of its services for free, including email and much of its YouTube video platform.

Google’s first-quarter ad revenue was $54.5 billion (roughly Rs. 4,47,360 crore), little changed from a year earlier.

Like many newspaper publishers, McLean, Virginia-based Gannett has struggled in recent years with falling ad revenue and as more people get their news online.

Gannett said print circulation at its newspapers fell nearly 20 percent in 2020 and in 2021, and that it has shuttered more than 170 publications since 2019, when it merged with GateHouse Media.

According to the lawsuit, online digital advertising in the United States has grown nearly eightfold since 2009 into a $200 billion (roughly Rs. 16,41,689 crore) business, but newspaper ad revenue has fallen nearly 70 percent over that time.

The case is Gannett Co v Google LLC et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 23-05177.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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