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Google to Media Institute: We're Good for Journalism

Google has responded to a Media Institute white paper on the search and ad company's ability to foreclose competition, with the institute giving the company a chance to respond on its blog to the paper, which was submitted to the Federal Trade Commission.

In its white paper, the institute, an independent First Amendment think tank supported by various media companies, said the government needs to step in to remedy the "threat" to competitors in the digital space posed by Google's unrivaled dominance in the search and advertising marketplace.

The paper takes issue with Google's prioritizing of search for Google News, redirecting readers from original sources to Google's aggregated home page. To do that, it says, Google's main page "biases Google News results over results of news organizations and other publishers."

In a blog posting on the Institute's site, Adam Kovacevich, head of competition, public policy and public affairs for Google, said that the institute paper was essentially restating past criticisms that were obsolete, had already been litigated, or it believed were wrong.

Kovacevich argues that Google has a history of helping the news industry by driving traffic to its sites for free -- more than 4 billion clicks per month -- and providing them with useful online tools. Besides, he says, news organizations can easily opt out of Google News. He also pointed out that the company has invested millions in nonprofit journalism. He also pitched Google's value to publishers in general by  making books more available online and helping rights holders manage and monetize video conent on line via YouTube's Content ID system.

The FTC is currently investigating Google's search and ad businesses, which were also the subject of a recent Senate Antitrust Committee hearing, "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?" where the answer to the question posed in the title drew more questions than definitive answers.