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Google’s EU Antitrust Offer Is ‘Ineffective,’ Publishers Say

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Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- A group of European publishers criticized Google Inc.’s offer to settle a European Union antitrust probe as “ineffective,” saying it doesn’t solve competition issues.

Google’s proposal to auction links on its search results to some rivals would generate additional revenue for the world’s largest search engine without addressing alleged discrimination in search rankings, the German newspaper publishers’ federation BDZV and other publishing associations said in a statement.

The European Commission last month sought feedback from rivals on Google’s latest offer to allow it to end the three-year investigation into allegations that Google promotes its specialist search services, copies competitors’ travel and restaurant reviews, and has agreements with websites and software developers that stifle competition in the advertising industry.

“The commitments would legitimize Google’s current practice of placing own services first and even turn the traffic to competing services into a new and lucrative revenue stream for Google,” the publishers said.

They asked the EU to end settlement talks and send Google a formal complaint listing possible antitrust concerns.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it had made significant changes to increase the visibility of rival services to address EU concerns.

“Unfortunately, our competitors seem less interested in resolving things than in entangling us in a never-ending dispute,” Al Verney, a spokesman for Google in Brussels, said in an e-mail.

Google isn’t proposing to sell links to news sites, the publishers said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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