Newspaper firm launches class action suit versus Google, Facebook over ad revenue

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West Virginia's HD Media has filed an antitrust complaint against Google and Facebook, claiming that they conspired to monopolize digital advertising and so endanger local newspapers.

Despite Google recently announcing it would pay $1 billion to news publishers, a newspaper company has filed what it says is the first antitrust suit against Google and Facebook over digital advertising. HD Media, which publishes seven newspapers, accuses the two companies of entering into a secret agreement.

According to Editor & Publisher Magazine, the suit specifies that this secret agreement, codenamed "Jedi Blue," manipulated online advertising auctions. It also claims that Google's monopolization of the digital advertising market is threatening local newspapers across the US.

"The freedom of the press is not at stake," the suit reportedly says. "The press itself is at stake."

"We invite every other newspaper in America to join this cause," HD Media managing partner Doug Reynolds told Editor & Publisher Magazine. "We are fighting not only for the future of the press but also the preservation of our democracy."

Google's separate $1 billion offer concerns its planned Google News Showcase project. Begun in Brazil and Germany, the project has expanded to Android users across Australia, the UK, Canada and more.

It offers packages of news stories coupled to video and graphics content. Google says the aim is to introduce readers to news outlets that they may then subscribe to.