Media giant News Corp has launched an assault on information titan Google, but it came not in the form of a series of lambasting headlines. Rather Murdoch's empire opted for a strongly-worded letter to the European Commission, urging them not to settle with Google over competition claims.
News Corp’s grievances primarily concern Google’s role in the ‘egregious aggregation’ of content that it claims is undermining the ‘uniqueness of news sites’. The media conglomeration also called Google a ‘platform for piracy’, alleging that the firm ‘chooses to ignore the unlawful and unsavoury content that surfaces after the simplest of searches’.
Google hasn’t responded to the letter, but has historically denied similar allegations, saying newspapers get most of their traffic directly rather than via search (it would know) and that it rigorously tackles piracy.
So far, so standard corporate spat. But News Corp’s letter goes on, and it gets personal. Google, News Corp said, ‘has evolved from a wonderfully feisty, creative Silicon Valley startup to a vast, powerful, often unaccountable bureaucracy’.
Even worse, said the former publisher of the disgraced, phone-hacking-scandal-ridden rag The News of the World, ‘the shining vision of Google’s founders has been replaced by a cynical management’.
Such cynicism has clearly shocked and appalled the sweet-as-pie executives at News Corp, which said it was not naïve in its dealings with the internet firm.
Google has been mired in a dispute with the EU over claims that it exploits its dominant position in the European search market to promote its other services, such as Youtube and Google Maps, over those of rivals. Google and the EU had agreed a settlement in principle in February, but European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced last week that no settlement would be reached before he leaves the post in October.
News Corp now joins the likes of Microsoft (surprise surprise) and German print publisher Axel Springer in calling for an EU crackdown on Google.