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CCI may fine Google for Google TV

After facing antitrust heat in two cases in India, US technology giant Google has found itself in hot water for the third time in a month. According to a report in The Economic Times, the director general office of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has finished a probe for alleged market dominance abuse by Google in the smart TV market.

The probe looked into the so-called Android Compatibility Commitments, which the report said prohibit equipment manufacturers from producing, distributing, or selling any other smart television that is not Android based.

To use its operating software (OS), television manufacturers need to enter into a licensing agreement with Google. And complainants have alleged that the terms of these agreements are prohibitive for the manufacturers.

The report said CCI had ordered a probe against Google in this case in June last year following a complaint about its smart television operating system (OS), Android TV.

In the previous two cases, Google has already been fined for “abusing its market dominant position” in connection with the Android mobile device ecosystem. The Commission slapped a total fine of over Rs 2,000 crore in the two cases.

“The investigation has dwelt into various allegations made by the informants which essentially revolve around denial of market access to any manufacturer who doesn’t enter a licensing agreement with Google,” ET quoted one of the persons with direct knowledge of the CCI investigation.

The person said CCI would soon take up the report, and Google will be allowed to respond to the allegations.

A Google spokesperson told the publication, “The emerging smart TV sector in India is thriving, due in part to Google’s free licensing model, and Android TV competes with numerous well-established TV OSes such as FireOS, Tizen, and WebOS. We are confident that our smart TV licensing practices are in compliance with all applicable competition laws.”

The complainants have also alleged that Google Play Store services are not available for TVs manufactured by companies that have not signed any agreements with Google. But this feature comes pre-installed in TVs manufactured by companies which have an agreement with Google. Business Standard

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