Google under fire again as Australia targets advertising power

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Google is reviving plans to launch its own news website in Australia within weeks, according to a local media outlet contracted to provide articles for the venture, as the search giant fights world-first proposed laws on content payments.

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Google's dominance of digital advertising technology in Australia needs to be addressed, the country's competition watchdog said, opening up another front in its battle with the US giant.

In some areas of the market, Google takes in 100 per cent of the revenue or ads traded, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Thursday (Jan 28). That degree of influence means Google "is likely to have the ability and the incentive" to use its own ad tech businesses and distort competition, the regulator said.

Thursday's interim report, part of the ACCC's inquiry into digital advertising services, stokes tensions further between the company and Australian authorities. The Alphabet unit last week threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if the government enacts legislation forcing the company to pay publishers for news.

"There is a real lack of competition, choice and transparency in this industry," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in the statement.

A Google spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the ACCC's report.

The ACCC said it is seeking feedback on a number of ways to promote competition in advertising technology, including rules to manage conflicts of interest and prevent so-called self-preferencing in the supply of ad tech services.

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