West Virginia newspaper publisher sues Google, Facebook

A West Virginia news publisher has filed a no-confidence motion against Google and Facebook, which together receive nearly half of all digital advertising dollars in the US and are facing antitrust charges from federal and state authorities.

The company, HD Media, owns several papers in the state, including the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington and the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

HD Media claims that Google has monopolized the online advertising market so much that “it threatens extinction of local newspapers around the country.” The suit also alleges that Google and Facebook conspired to further their dominance with a secret settlement, with a lawsuit filed for 10. Republican Attorney General in December.

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The company does not specify the impact of Facebook and Google’s behavior on its business, saying it has harmed its ability to “effectively monetize its content” because Google News publishers have an uncompetitive share of advertising revenue Is able to take. A lawyer for the company refused to speak on the record.

David Chavern, head of the news publishing group News Media Alliance, said this is the first antitrust lawsuit against a technology platform focused on news publishing. He said the group was not involved in the lawsuit.

HD Media filed in federal court in Western Virginia and asked for a jury trial. It asked for unspecified damages and said the court barred Google and Facebook from the unforgivable conduct it is alleging.

HD Media owns several letters in the state, including the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington and the Charleston Gazette-Mail. (IStock)

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The newspaper industry has been in decline for a long time, with job losses and publications thinning and even disappearing. Online advertising revenue has been unable to make up for the print-advertising deficit.

Federal and anti-state officials have sued both Google and Facebook in recent months. The Justice Department alleges that Google abuses its dominance in online search and advertising.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Google referred a reporter for a blog post published in mid-January by Adam Cohen, director of economic policy, who defends Google’s business against antitrust allegations brought by the Texas Attorney General in December.

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