Monday, 10 January 2011

Google gets double battering in UK newspapers

Google has suffered a double whammy in comment pieces by former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson and the Independent's media commentator Stephen Glover.

Johnson, writing in the Mail on Sunday, suggested that British journalists made redundant should blame Google.

He claimed: "Effectively, Google invests negligible amounts in Britain, pays negligible amounts of tax on its underlying surplus to contribute to civil society, and yet extracts vast sums in advertising revenues.

"The tragedy is that those advertising revenues siphoned off to California should be used to help fund high-quality content – TV programmes, radio shows, newspaper and magazine articles.

"But now commercial television and radio stations, as well as the print media, are seeing their economic model threatened by Google, whose search engine dominates web advertising.

"Essentially, Google pays for no content whatsoever, but parasitically lives off the back of all those organisations that actually commission writers, actors, directors, producers to make original material.

"All those film-makers, journalists and others who are being thrown out of work can blame Google: they have ransacked the UK media industry, and are not even paying reasonable levels of tax on their usurious gains."

Glover joined the attack in his Media Studies column today comparing the criticism of Rupert Murdoch and the phone-hacking affair to Google. Glover writes: "There is a more powerful organisation that may pose a far greater threat than Rupert Murdoch, and yet it is barely criticised by right-thinking people. Its name is Google.

"Compare it on the same three counts with the wicked media mogul. (1) Google's Street View carries pictures of every street in Britain. If you use Google services such as its search engine and Gmail, Google will store data derived from your use for years. Gmail's software even reads your private emails! Murdoch threatens the privacy of celebrities, Google of ordinary individuals.

"(2) Like Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Google has close relations with the Tories. Mr Cameron's shadowy guru Steve Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, Google's vice-president of public policy and communications.

"3) According to Business Week, Google has paid a derisory 2.4 per cent corporation tax on overseas earnings of £7.2bn since 2007."

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