1. Google could be facing a £22bn adtech lawsuit
A Brussels-based law firm has announced it intends to file a £22bn adtech lawsuit against Google on behalf of news publishers in the UK and EU. Press Gazette
reports that Geradin Partners believes that the US technology firm has 'deprived [media organisations] of billions of revenues through anti-competitive conduct'. Lawyers and economists working on the claims believe UK publishers alone could be owed £7bn in compensation.
Press Gazette quotes Damien Geradin as saying: 'Publishers, including local and national news media who play a vital role in our society, have long been harmed by Google's anti-competitive conduct. It is time that Google owns up to its responsibilities and pays back the damages it has caused to this important industry. That is why we are announcing these actions across two jurisdictions to obtain compensation for EU and UK publishers'.
Press Gazette relates that Geradin Partners, which specialises in competition law, is working with economists from Charles River Associates on the action, and says it has secured backing from Harbour, a litigation funder.
'In the UK,' explains the media website, 'Geradin has teamed up with litigation firm Humphries Kerstetter to bring a damages claim in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. It will be an opt-out claim, meaning publishers are included unless they ask not to be. Geradin said the UK claim will focus on recovering compensation from lost revenue – estimated to be £7bn in value – from the sale of advertising space on websites'.
It also quotes Toby Starr, a partner at Humphries Kerstetter, as pointing out: 'This important claim will represent a class of victims of Google's anti-competitive conduct in adtech who have collectively lost an estimated £7bn. This includes news websites up and down the country with large daily readerships as well as the thousands of small business owners who depend on advertising revenue – be it from their fishing website, food blog, football fanzine or other online content they have spent time creating and publishing'.
Press Gazette reports that in the EU Geradin is working with Stek, a Dutch law firm. It quotes Stek's Jan Bart van de Hel as saying: 'Many publishers have suffered damages as a result of Google's wrongful actions. It is important to take action against this, not only to make sure that the damages of the publishers are fully compensated, but also to make sure that Google's anti-competitive conduct is prevented for the future'.
The media website quotes a Google spokesperson as explaining: 'Google works constructively with publishers across Europe – our advertising tools, and those of our many adtech competitors, help millions of websites and apps fund their content, and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers. These services adapt and evolve in partnership with those same publishers. This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic. When we receive the complaint, we'll fight it vigorously'.
In 2021, the Daily Mail's
publisher, Associated Newspapers, began a legal action against Google in the US, claiming its dominant advertising technology was depriving publishers of revenue.
The Daily Mail
said at the time: 'News publishers do not see the growing ad spending because Google and its parent company Alphabet unlawfully have acquired and maintain monopolies for the tools that publishers and advertisers use to buy and sell online ad space. Those tools include the software publishers use to sell their ad inventory, and the dominant exchange where millions of ad impressions are sold in auctions every day. Google controls the shelf space
on publishers' pages where ads appear, and it exploits that control to defeat competition for that ad space'.
Meantime, Press Gazette is hosting The Future of Media Technology
conference at the Waldorf Hilton in London on 21 September. The conference aims to give media industry decision-makers a one-day masterclass on the strategies, solutions and ideas they need to thrive in the digital era.
A Press Gazette spokesperson said: 'The mission of the conference is to inspire media leaders and help them run businesses which can enable quality journalism, news and media to succeed in the long-term'.
2. It's a very happy reunion for Lorna and Noel
Desultorily scanning Facebook, I was suddenly drawn to a photograph in which the two people pictured looked so very happy. My curiosity was immediately aroused as to what had prompted such an obviously celebratory occasion. And all was revealed in the accompanying message.
It read: 'Something lovely happened the other night… and proves that the smallest kindness can make a big impact. I got to say a huge thank you to a special man. Thirty-plus years ago I wrote to every national newspaper editor in Scotland asking what advice they would give me on becoming a journalist. I knew no-one in the industry. My grandad, a retired cop, was a security man at The Herald
building in Albion Street. It was the heyday of print and I'd listen to his stories about the reporters and was hooked.
'Only one editor replied. And he asked me to come in to see him. I was pretty terrified. He was unbelievably kind, gave me great advice, and pulled no punches on how hard I'd have to work. He talked about his paper, the reporters, their campaigning journalism and his own job with such passion.
'Thirty years later, that teenage girl now has his job. I'll never get his circulation figures and can only hope I have even half his passion for the job. But this week I got to thank Noel Young, the Sunday Mail's
most successful editor in person, as he's just returned to Scotland after years abroad. Life turning full circle.'
That young girl, who was treated so very kindly and given such sterling advice, is Lorna Hughes who has been the editor of the Sunday Mail
for the past two and a half years. She had spoken to Noel intermittently by telephone over the intervening years but never caught up with him in person until they were reunited at this year's Scottish Bar & Pubs Awards event in Glasgow.
Lorna had diligently taken Noel's advice on board, and has used it to such advantage that she has become the first woman to edit the Sunday Mail
in its 106-year history and the first woman to edit a national newspaper in Scotland for more than 20 years.
Lorna had resolutely set out on the road to achieving her fierce ambition to be a journalist by initially being awarded an HND in journalism at college in Glasgow. Her first job was as a reporter on the Montrose Review
weekly newspaper. She moved on to the Stirling Observer
, then the Sunday Sun
tabloid newspaper in Newcastle, where she won several press awards, before returning to Scotland to take up a reporting job on the Sunday Mail
Once at the Sunday Mail
, Lorna proved to be a star recruit – assiduously rising through the ranks, becoming progressively features editor, assistant editor, executive editor and ultimately promoted to the tabloid's top editorial role. And she is now one of several women editing daily and Sunday newspapers in Scotland – a very welcome trend to which I will return in a future column.
Under Noel's editorship, the Sunday Mail's
circulation had risen from 750,000 to 903,000 and he became managing editor of both the Daily Record
and the Sunday Mail
. Later, he headed to the USA where among other interests he freelanced for quite a number of years for UK newspapers, including several Scottish titles, and also had a period as the US editor of The Drum
Noel, whose introduction to newspapers was at The Sunday Post
, has returned home to Scotland permanently, and he will now have ample time to reflect on his highly successful and rewarding 60-plus years in the media business. And hasn't his protege done him proud!
3. QTV opens major new production facility in Glasgow
Sports production and broadcast facilities company QTV has opened a new state-of-the-art headquarters in Glasgow. In a move that doubles its footprint to more than 12,000 square feet, the company has built what it claims is the first television production centre of its kind in Scotland. It features four remote production galleries, a central technical area, production offices and Scottish football's new centralised VAR (video assistant referee) facility.
QTV, which provides end-to-end broadcast and live streaming services, has also expanded its fleet of outside broadcast vehicles which take to the road each weekend to deliver match coverage on football's Scottish Premiership, and handle a busy portfolio of sports including rugby, curling and archery, plus a range of other live events.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, QTV sustained its growth by diversifying into virtual and hybrid event coverage for organisations such as The New York Times
and Climate Action.
The new production centre in Glasgow has been created thanks to funding support from UKSE – a subsidiary of Tata Steel. The UKSE funding complements additional financial resources from Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Growth Fund and commercial lending partners, totalling more than £3.5m, which will underpin the company's next phase of growth within UK and international markets.
Its staff has already grown from 16 in 2019 to 35 permanent posts by this summer, and it expects to create at least eight further jobs in the next 18 months.
QTV's chief executive officer, Jack McGill, says: 'I am incredibly proud of the work by our fantastic team over the last three years to bring to life my vision of building a world-class production facility in Scotland, now made possible by UKSE's investment. These facilities will open new revenue streams and boost the local economy through further investment and job creation'.
And Terry Quinn, regional executive at UKSE, enthuses: 'QTV is a fantastic example of a Scottish firm that has continued to go from strength to strength: working with world-renowned organisations and making a positive impact in the world of sports and live event coverage'.
4. UK's last-remaining weekend sports paper closes
Renowned for its masthead featuring a happy sailor, the Sports Mail
, published as part of The News
daily newspaper's operation in Portsmouth, has ceased publishing – the last remaining publication of its kind in the UK since the Southern Daily Echo's Sports Pink
shut down in 2017.
Neil Allen, chief sports writer of The News
, tells us: 'After 119 years, the country's last-remaining weekend sports paper has published for the final time. It's the end of an era – for the Sports Mail
and all sports newspapers in this country'.
As one who still laments the closure of the Green Final
, the Saturday evening sports paper of Aberdeen's Evening Express
, I can very much empathise with downhearted sports-reading folks down Portsmouth way, and indeed across the entire UK.
5. Sports reporter has press box named after him
These are unusual times – including for sports reporters. Plymouth Argyle FC has just honoured Gordon Sparks by naming the press box at its Home Park stadium after him.
Gordon, who is currently being treated for cancer for a second time, has covered the club's matches for more than 30 years for Hospital Radio Plymouth, Plymouth Sound and BBC Radio Devon. He is also an ambassador for the club.
6. How Boris 'developed' a fellow journalist's idea
The Scottish Daily Mail's
diarist Ephraim Hardcastle passes on a rather interesting anecdote about our former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, whom, of course, is a journalist to trade.
Hardcastle relates: 'Journalist Rachel Sylvester tells BBC Radio 4's Today
programme about seeking advice from fellow Daily Telegraph
columnist Boris when she started writing. We talked through my idea, had a drink in the bar. My column was due two or three days later. I opened the paper the next day, and Boris had written up my idea absolutely brilliantly. I'm sure he thought it was his idea. It was typically ruthless, brilliant, thoughtless'.
Should you wish to get in touch with me, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caithness-born Hamish Mackay is now in his 57th year as an occasional/sometimes regular contributor to the UK's exceedingly diverse media market