Google loses challenge against EU antitrust decision, other probes loom

The ruling is a boost for EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager following setbacks in cases involving other tech giants such as Intel and Qualcomm this year. (AFP/File)
The ruling is a boost for EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager following setbacks in cases involving other tech giants such as Intel and Qualcomm this year. (AFP/File)
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Updated 14 September 2022

Google loses challenge against EU antitrust decision, other probes loom

Google loses challenge against EU antitrust decision, other probes loom
  • Google said to be disappointed by the court's decision as the US tech giant was fined a record $4.13 billion
  • This is the second court defeat for Google which lost its challenge to a $2.42 billion fine last year, the first of a trio of cases

LUXEMBOURG: Google suffered one of its biggest setbacks on Wednesday when a top European court fined it 4.125 billion euros ($4.13 billion) for using its Android mobile operating system to thwart rivals, offering a precedent for other regulators to ratchet up pressure.
The unit of US tech giant Alphabet had challenged an earlier ruling, but the decision was broadly upheld by the Europe’s second-highest court in Wednesday’s ruling and the fine was reduced only modestly from 4.34 billion euros.
It is a record fine for an antitrust violation. The EU antitrust enforcer has imposed a total of 8.25 billion euros in antitrust fines on the world’s most popular Internet search engine in three investigations stretching back more than a decade.
This is the second court defeat for Google which lost its challenge to a 2.42 billion euro ($2.42 billion) fine last year, the first of a trio of cases.
“The General Court largely confirms the Commission’s decision that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android mobile devices and mobile network operators in order to consolidate the dominant position of its search engine,” the court said.
“In order better to reflect the gravity and duration of the infringement, the General Court considers it appropriate however to impose a fine of 4.125 billion euros on Google, its reasoning differing in certain respects from that of the Commission,” judges said.
Google, which can appeal on matters of law to the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s highest, voiced its disappointment.
“We are disappointed that the Court did not annul the decision in full. Android has created more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world,” a spokesperson said.

ANTITRUST BOOST
The ruling is a boost for EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager following setbacks in cases involving other tech giants such as Intel and Qualcomm this year.
Vestager has made her crackdown against Big Tech a hallmark of her job, a move which has encouraged regulators in the United States and elsewhere to follow suit.
She is currently investigating Google’s digital advertising business, its Jedi Blue ad deal with Meta, Apple’s App Store rules, Meta’s marketplace and data use and Amazon’s online selling and market practices.
The Court agreed with the Commission’s assessment that iPhone maker Apple was not in the same market and therefore could not be a competitive constraint against Android.
The court backing could strengthen the EU antitrust watchdog in its investigations into Apple’s business practices in the music streaming market where the regulator says the company dominates.
FairSearch, whose 2013 complaint triggered the EU case, said the judgment will further strengthen Vestager’s landmark tech rules aimed at curbing US tech giants which will go into force next year.
“This victory will embolden the Commission in enforcing its new regulation reigning in Big Tech, the Digital Markets Act,” its lawyer Thomas Vinje said.
The Commission in its 2018 decision said Google used Android to cement its dominance in general Internet search via payments to large manufacturers and mobile network operators and restrictions.
Google said it acted like countless other businesses and that such payments and agreements help keep Android a free operating system, criticizing the EU decision as out of step with the economic reality of mobile software platforms.


Oman’s love of football highlighted with new campaign

Oman’s love of football highlighted with new campaign
Updated 11 sec ago

Oman’s love of football highlighted with new campaign

Oman’s love of football highlighted with new campaign
  • Industrial firm partners with Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj, players including Ali Al-Habsi

DUBAI: Jindal Shadeed, an Oman-based iron and steel company, has partnered with independent agency Wieden+Kennedy to create a new campaign that highlights the nation’s love of football during the FIFA World Cup 2022.

The agency’s India office created “The Steel of Oman” campaign, which celebrates the country’s culture and development.

The agency collaborated with celebrated Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj to create 15 portraits, which were used as print and outdoor averts. The portraits feature talented Omani achievers, the “steel” of the nation, who have been celebrated for their contribution to the nation.

The company also partnered with national team football players including Ali Al-Habsi. The agency collaborated with award-winning director Ayappa K.M. to create a three-minute film that showcases Omani culture with football as the backdrop. The track was composed by Danish musician Sofyann Ben Youssef and focuses on local folk songs.

“The brief was inspiring and the client’s faith in our ability to do something truly authentic pushed us for something truly special,” said Ruchika Khanna, director of digital and business head, W+K India.

“The creative team came up with a simple yet powerful narrative that also enabled us to find interesting production partners who could help bring our ideas to life and we found them in Ayappa and Hassan Hajjaj who are known for their stellar craft,” she added.


MENA content creators highlighted in new video, podcast series

MENA content creators highlighted in new video, podcast series
Updated 19 min 13 sec ago

MENA content creators highlighted in new video, podcast series

MENA content creators highlighted in new video, podcast series
  • ‘Play it Forward’ launched by YouTube
  • 5 episodes, stories from Saudi, Egypt, Iraq, UAE

DUBAI: YouTube has launched its latest video and podcast series “Play it Forward with YouTube” or “Hekayat YouTube” in Arabic, focusing on stories from the Middle East North Africa region.

The five-episode series, which is available on the YouTube Arabia channel, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify & Deezer, aims to shed light on the journey and aspirations of content creators from the MENA region.

The majority of watch time of YouTube content that is produced in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt comes from outside these countries.

Content produced in the UAE has the highest number of viewers from outside the country at 95 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia at 60 percent and Egypt at 55 percent.

“I’m always inspired by the creativity and dedication of YouTube creators from MENA,” said Tarek Amin, director of partnerships at YouTube MENA.

“Their journey to content creation and wanting to share more of what inspires them or what needs to be spoken about are stories we hope more people can hear and be inspired from through ‘Play it Forward with YouTube,’” he added.

In each episode, Amin interviews different creators including Passant Nur El-Din and Mostafa Attia from Egypt, Zainab Al-Eqabi from Iraq, Rehab Saad from Saudi Arabia and Anas Bukhash from the UAE.

The first episode was released on Dec. 5 with others coming out every week.


Latvia revokes license of independent Russian TV channel

Latvia revokes license of independent Russian TV channel
Updated 06 December 2022

Latvia revokes license of independent Russian TV channel

Latvia revokes license of independent Russian TV channel
  • The decision by the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council was based on number of recent violations by TV Rain
  • The license was revoked on the grounds of a threat to national security and public order

TALLINN, Estonia: Latvia has revoked the license of an independent Russian TV channel exiled in the Baltic country for, among other things, voicing support for the Russian military and including Crimea in its map of Russia, media authorities said on Tuesday.
The decision by the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council was based on number of recent violations by TV Rain and the license was revoked on the grounds of a threat to national security and public order.
The region’s main news agency, Baltic News Service, said the decision will take effect on Thursday when not only TV Rain’s broadcasts but also its programs on YouTube will be blocked in Latvia.aTV Rain was earlier fined by the Latvian media watchdog for failing to ensure proper translation of its broadcasts into Latvian, the Baltic country’s only official language.
On Friday, Latvia’s state security service started a probe into statements made by TV Rain on suspicion that it was supporting Russia and its military currently waging a war in Ukraine.
Latvia’s decision was triggered by a TV Rain program in which the anchor invited Russian soldiers and their families watching it to share their stories with the channel and promised to offer help. The host offered an apology, saying he wasn’t promising material assistance to Russian troops on the front line in Ukraine, but the channel quickly fired him and apologized.
The incident came on top of earlier tensions with the Latvian authorities, who issued a reprimand over the channel depicting the Moscow-annexed Crimea as part of Russia on maps and referring to the Russian military as “our army.”
TV Rain owner Natalya Sindeyeva said in an interview that she hasn’t decided on the next steps yet. “I wasn’t prepared for that, I was sure they wouldn’t do that,” Sindeyeva told Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet also based in Latvia.
Since its creation in 2010, TV Rain has been the most visible independent TV station in Russia, criticizing the Kremlin’s policies, offering airtime to government critics and extensively covering opposition protests.
It has faced continuous official intimidation and pressure from the Russian authorities in the past. In August 2021, it was branded a “foreign agent,” a label that implied closer government scrutiny and carried a strong pejorative connotation that could discourage potential viewers.
TV Rain suspended operations in Russia earlier this year after authorities blocked its broadcasts allegedly due to the channel’s critical coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The channel restarted broadcasting in the summer from Latvia’s capital, Riga, where several other independent Russian media outlets are based.
The Latvian media watchdog’s ruling can be appealed. Its chairman, Ivars Abolins, said that all media outlets working in Latvia should follow and respect Latvia’s legislation but TV Rain — known in Russia as “Dozhd” — has refused to do it.
“I believe that this decision demonstrates that Latvia is open also for the Russian media because all Russian media who respect the law are welcome and may work in Latvia,” said Abolins as quoted by the Baltic News Service. “Those who are not ready to follow the rules, cross the red lines, may not work here. The rules are fair.”


Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill

Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill
Updated 06 December 2022

Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill

Facebook owner Meta may remove news from platform if US Congress passes media bill

WASHINGTON: Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. on Monday threatened to remove news from its platform if the US Congress passes a proposal aimed at making it easier for news organizations to negotiate collectively with companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook.
Sources briefed on the matter said lawmakers are considering adding the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to a must-pass annual defense bill as way to help the struggling local news industry.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a tweet said the company would be forced to consider removing news if the law was passed “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”
He added the proposal fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because “it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around.”
The News Media Alliance, a trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to add the bill to the defense bill, arguing that “local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling. If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper.”
More than two dozen groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Computer & Communications Industry Association on Monday urged Congress not to approve the local news bill saying it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters” and argued the bill does not require “funds gained through negotiation or arbitration will even be paid to journalists.”
A similar Australian law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, has largely worked, a government report said.
Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, various tech firms including Meta and Alphabet have signed more than 30 deals with media outlets, compensating them for content that generated clicks and advertising dollars, the report added.


Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 
Updated 06 December 2022

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

DUBAI: Google Doodle marked on Tuesday the birthday of the late Kuwaiti actor and comedian Abdul Hussein Abdul Reda, which falls on Dec. 6. 

Abdul Reda is one of the most famous and prominent Gulf and Arab artists, and one of the Gulf region’s pioneers of acting, with a career that exceeded 50 years.

He participated in the first theatrical play in classical Arabic under the title “Saqr Quraish” in 1961. 

(Internet)

Abdul Reda presented many prominent works in theater and television, where he became famous on television with series like The Slippery Path and Destinies.  

He was nicknamed by Dubai Ruler and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid as the “Gulf’s laughter and joy” for his famous theatrical roles in well-known Khaleej plays like Bye Bye London and Bani Samet. 

On his passing, Sheikh Mohammed took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late Kuwaiti actor, saying: “We bid farewell to the Gulf's laughter and joy. Every Khaleeji citizen had a beautiful time with you.” 

After suffering several diseases in his lifetime, Abdul Reda passed away in London and was buried in Sulaibikhiyat Al Jaafariah on Aug. 16, 2017.