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News Corp. Urges EU to Reconsider Google Settlement

A "platform of piracy" led by a "cynical management," says News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson.

News Corp. Chief Executive Robert Thomson has urged European regulators to reconsider their settlement with Google over its search practices, calling the Internet company an “egregious” aggregator and a “platform of piracy.”

In a letter last week to European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, Thomson said Google was “willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition” and that the vision of Google’s founders had been replaced by a “cynical management.” News Corp issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the letter.

Google has been the target of a European Commission investigation since November 2010, when more than a dozen complainants, including Microsoft, accused the company of promoting its own services at their expense.

The settlement, which would allow Google to avoid a fine of up to $5 billion, would require the world’s top Internet search engine to display rivals’ links more prominently. Google reached this deal with the antitrust chief in February, but might have to come up with additional concessions to rivals.

“Your decision to reconsider Google’s settlement offer comes at a crucial moment in the history of the free flow of information and of a healthy media in Europe and beyond,” Thomson wrote.

Google was not immediately available for comment.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has interests in Europe, including The Times, The Sun and The Wall Street Journal Europe, a network of local language business newswires and the HarperCollins book publishing business.

Thomson said News Corp. used Google products and partnered with the company on various of its projects, “but our cherished content is vulnerable to exploitation.”

Almunia, the outgoing antitrust chief, said in May he wanted to close the case against the world’s most popular Internet search engine before the end of his five-year term, but he announced last week that he would not be able to do so before he stands down next month.

Almunia’s successor, former Danish economy minister Margrethe Vestager, who takes up her post in November, will now have to decide whether to continue settlement talks with Google, charge the company or drop the case.

(Reporting by Shailaja Sharma in Bangalore)

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