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West Virginia newspaper group files antitrust lawsuit against Facebook and Google

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A newspaper group in West Virginia is suing Facebook Inc. and Google LLC under U.S. antitrust statutes, alleging the internet juggernauts have unfairly deprived it of advertising revenue.

HD Media Co., owner of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, among others, filed its case Jan. 29 in federal court seeking trial by jury and unspecified damages.

“Google’s unlawful anticompetitive conduct is directly stripping newspapers across the country, including (the) plaintiff, of their primary revenue source,” HD Media alleges in the court filing. “The freedom of the press is not at stake; the press itself is at stake.”

The social network and search engine account for more than half of all U.S. digital ad spending, with a forecast in October by eMarketer showing Google at 29.8 per cent, Facebook at 23.5 per cent and Inc. with 10.2 per cent of the market.

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