European Media Groups to Sue Google for €2.1 Billion over Advertising Business Dominance

Google is facing a €2.1 billion lawsuit from 32 European media groups, including Axel Springer and Schibsted. The companies claim they incurred losses due to Google’s illegal conduct in the digital advertising market.

Plaintiffs include publishers from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. Alongside these, Google’s advertising business has caught the attention of European antitrust authorities. The media companies argue that they suffered losses as a result of an inadequately competitive market caused by Google’s unlawful actions. “Without Google’s abuse of its dominant position, media companies would have earned significantly higher advertising revenues and paid lower fees for advertising services. These funds could have been reinvested to fortify the European media landscape,” the lawyers representing the plaintiff’s interests stated. They also cited a €220 million fine that French Competition Authority imposed on Google in 2021 for its advertisement business.

Google has dismissed the allegations in the lawsuit as “speculative and opportunistic.” The company asserts that they cooperate constructively with publishers all over Europe. Google stated that their advertising tools “are adapted and evolved in partnership with the same publishers.” Last year, Google similarly responded to accusations from European officials of abusing its dominant position in the advertising market, where the company acts on behalf of both buyers and sellers.

Publishers worldwide have lamented the domination of large tech players in the advertising arena, claiming that it reduces their share of revenues. Google is considered the world’s largest player in this field. The media groups have filed the lawsuit in the Netherlands, considered a primary jurisdiction for antitrust damages claims under European law, hence avoiding the necessity to lodge lawsuits in several EU countries separately.

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