Google News investigated by Italian antitrust authorities

The FIEG, an association of Italian editors, recently tried to sue Google’s News service. They claim: “Google is preventing editors from choosing freely which articles should be posted on the website”.

The editors are also claiming that websites which don’t want to be published on Google News would also be automatically excluded from Google’s standard search results.

Italian antitrust authorities have started investigating Google Italy on the basis of “predominant position abuse” and will publish the results of their research and findings on October 15th 2010.

Google Italy didn’t take that long to reply. Here is their official response from Josh Cohen, business product manager for Google News, which makes perfect sense to me:

“Traffic generated from Google News is of very high value: it brings more than 1 billion clicks per month to editors, most of whom gain revenue from advertising on their pages. Who is providing the content, as well as any other online editor, has total control over the visibility of their articles on Google. They can choose what is to be indexed and what not, via the robots.txt file”.

“On top of that, editors have other ways of managing their online content. One of these options is to be indexed in Google results without publishing articles on Google News. We met with different Italian editors and Fieg representatives this summer to explain all the options”.

The last sentence of their response may sum it up: “When it comes to Google News, we get way more requests of being included rather than being removed”.

To me, it seems like another pointless battle for old-school editors who have no clue how to get in the whole new media world and are stuck with the old “write-sell” mentality. We’ll see at the end of 2010 how this will end. That is, of course, if any of these editors are still in business.