Google is reportedly close to reaching a settlement in an antitrust case with the French government after French officials alleged the company abused its power in online advertising.
Sources close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the settlement will likely involve a fine and require Google to make operational changes.
France’s Competition Authority accused Google’s ad server, DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), of giving AdX — Google’s online ad auction house — a boost over other auction operators, among other forms of self-preferential advantages, the Journal reports.
The settlement will involve Google neither denying nor accepting culpability in the case and the proposed changes in the settlement would only apply in France, though they may be incorporated throughout the company.
The sources said the settlement must still be approved by the board of the authority, which may reject the deal.
The case in France comes from a complaint filed in 2019 by multiple media entities including News Corp., Le Figaro and Belgian media company Groupe Rossel, the Journal reports. Le Figaro is no longer involved in the case.
News Corp. owns the Journal.
"We are pleased with the progress on our global deal with Google, which we believe acknowledges the value of our content and provides a solid framework for a sustainable and rewarding partnership in the years ahead,” James Kennedy, spokesperson for News Corp., told the Journal.
A spokesperson for Google declined to comment when reached by the Journal, instead saying to the publication, “Our third-party ad tech products work with both our partners’ and our competitors’ products, including over 700 advertiser platforms and 80 publisher platforms.”
“We continue to take in feedback and make updates to better serve users and the wider ecosystem,” the spokesperson added.
The Journal notes that Google is facing legal challenges in other countries including the U.S. and the U.K. for alleged antitrust violations.
Texas is currently leading a lawsuit against Google along with 14 other U.S. states and territories, alleging that the tech giant violated antitrust laws to boost its dominance over the online advertising.