In France, an antitrust crackdown has seen the global search giant ordered to pay publishers for the news it displays on its own Google News service.

According to reporting by Bloomberg, the country’s antitrust agency, Autorité de la concurrence, gave Google a maximum of three months to reach a deal with news publishers and Agence France-Presse.

In a statement, the antitrust body wrote that certain Google practices might have seen the company abuse its dominant market position, and causing “serious and immediate harm” to the news media.

Part of a long-running battle by European publishers to regulate Google’s use of publisher’s content to bolster its news service, it is the first time that an authority has ordered the company to pay up.

“What’s clearly out of the question now is that the talks end with the same result as before: zero,” Adrien Giraud, a lawyer representing a grouping of French news organisations told Bloomberg.

“Since the European copyright law came into force in France last year, we have been engaging with publishers to increase our support and investment in news,” Google’s Richard Gingras said in a statement.

Given that Google sends between 26% and 90% of traffic to publishers’ sites, publishers had “no other choice than to comply with Google’s display policy without providing financial compensation.”

The measure is the second such ruling by the French antitrust office, following a record fine on Apple of €1.1 billion for anti-competitive practices with distributors.

Sourced from Bloomberg, Autorite de la concurrence