Google to Pay EUR 1.1-Million Fine Over Hotel Ranking Practices, French Finance Ministry Says

Google is also said to have amended its hotel rankings practices since September 2019.

Google to Pay EUR 1.1-Million Fine Over Hotel Ranking Practices, French Finance Ministry Says

The negotiations with Google recognise the value of quality and original journalism throughout country

Highlights
  • Google has also struck a deal with Australia's Seven West Media
  • Seven would supply content for Google's News Showcase platform
  • Deal shows Seven splitting from rivals News Corp and Nine Entertainment

Google has agreed to pay a fine of EUR 1.1 million (roughly Rs. 10 crores) after French authorities concluded the search engine displayed “misleading” rankings for French hotels.

Previously, Google used the official source Atout France as well as input from other hotel-industry websites in its algorithm to rank hotels from one to five stars.

After receiving complaints from hoteliers about Google's rankings, the French government's fraud and competition agency launched an investigation in 2019 and 2020. It said it was to monitor “the nature and fairness of the information provided by the platform” across 7,500 establishments.

Google said that it has now made the “necessary changes to only reflect the official French star rating for hotels on Google Maps and Search.”

In other Google-related news, the search giant has struck a deal with Australia's Seven West Media that became the country's first major news outlet to strike a licensing deal with Google, as the government pushes ahead with a law that would force the Internet giant to pay media companies for content.

At an earnings announcement on Tuesday, Seven, which owns a free-to-air television network and the main metro newspaper in the city of Perth, said it would supply content for Google's News Showcase platform. It did not disclose terms.

The deal shows Seven splitting from rivals News Corp and Nine Entertainment which have failed to reach agreements with Google and instead backed laws, set to be passed this week, where the government sets the online giant's content fees in the absence of a private deal.

So far in Australia, only specialist online publishers and one regional newspaper have struck deals to receive payment for their content appearing on the new Google platform which went live in the country this month. Outside Australia, Reuters is among news outlets with similar Google deals.

"The negotiations with Google recognise the value of quality and original journalism throughout the country and, in particular, in regional areas," said Seven West Chairman Kerry Stokes in a statement.

Google's Australia CEO Mel Silva said the US company was "proud to support original, trusted, and quality journalism" by featuring Seven on its platform. Last month, Silva told a parliamentary hearing Google would pull its search engine from Australia if the so-called News Media Bargaining Code became law. A Google representative declined to comment on the effect of the Seven deal.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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