Force Google News to Stay in Spain, Newspaper Association Tells Government


Robert Scoble / photo on flickr

As Scott Shackford noted last week, Google News is pulling out of Spain after the newspaper industry there, represented by the Asociación de Editores de Diarios Españoles (AEDE) successfully lobbied to force newspapers to charge Google for the inclusion of their content in news search results. Yes, really. Since Google News makes no money, Google found this a bit rich and decided to close shop rather than hemorrhage cash for the privilege of including Spanish newspaper results. Now, the AEDE wants Spanish and European Union government officials to force Google to keep the local edition of Google News operating. And, presumably, paying newspapers.

The closure announcement last week from Richard Gingras, head of Google News read, in part:

[S]adly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we'll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it's with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we'll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.

You'd think Spanish newspapers would be thrilled, since AEDE has fulminated for years that "Google es dominante en varios mercados y está abusando de esa posición de dominio." No Google News, no Google dominance, right?

Not so much. The Spain Report (based in the UK and so likely to continue appearing in the occasional news search) notes that the Spanish newspaper industry is in a bit of a panic over Google's decision to withdraw from a market where its presence has made so many Spaniards unhappy.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers' Association (AEDE) issued a statement last night saying that Google News was "not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position", recognising that Google's decision: "will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses".

"Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies".

Hoist, meet petard.

Who knew that the logical outcome of forcing businesses to participate in the market only on terms really favorable to connected players would be that some might choose not to participate at all? So the next logical step is to make them stay in business!

AEDE's denunciations of Google have often been issued jointly with German publishing associations, which have yet to win their way to a legislative victory comparable to that of their Spanish counterparts. Let's see if they maintain their enthusiasm after recent developments.