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News Corp. lashes out at Google in EU antitrust case

In sharply written letter opposing settlement offer in EU case against Google, News Corp. exec says Google is stifling competition and exploiting its dominant market position.

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News Corp., the massive media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch, issued a letter to the European Union last week criticizing Google's search and advertising services and requesting more stringent policies against the company.

In a letter published today, written to the EU's antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia, News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson said he believes the search company is "willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition" across Europe. He specifically took issue with Google's "egregious aggregation" of professional content through services like Google search and Google News, saying that they undermine "the basic business model of professional content creators."

"Your decision to reconsider Google's settlement offer comes at a crucial moment in the history of the free flow of information and of a healthy media in Europe and beyond," Thomson went on to say.

The letter is the latest complaint against Google as it continues to wage a battle over antitrust complaints in the European Union. For four years, the company has been working with the EU to arrive at a satisfactory agreement that would see Google provide, in the minds of regulators, fair treatment to third parties, including competitors and content creators.

Over the years, the main concern has been the placement of Google's services in search results compared to those of competitors. Thomson pointed to several examples, saying that News Corp.'s own video content will not show up first in search results. Instead, he argues, YouTube links will be first to pop up.

"Specifically on search, there is clear evidence that Google systematically diverts users away from relevant sites to its own related sites for commercial reasons," he wrote.

News Corp. owns several publications in Europe, including The Sun, The Wall Street Journal Europe, and The Times.

For years, Google has argued that it's not intentionally giving its own services preferential treatment and has agreed to several conditions to surface more competitor content. Earlier this month, however, Almunia said that his office was not pleased with Google's concessions and would investigate whether further efforts were needed for the company to ensure competition is maintained online.

CNET has contacted Google for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Via The New York Times)