+ A

Naver’s arrogance

May 02,2018
Naver, the country’s dominant search engine and portal site, informed 124 media organizations across the country of its new link policy in a brief email.

In the curt email, the internet giant said, “You must be familiar with Google’s link scheme,” and asked the publishers to inform the company by 1:00 p.m. on May 2 whether they wish to continue to be serviced with Naver links or want to opt out.

Naver fell short of explaining what Google method it was referring to, but it did say that it would stop sharing ad revenue from the connections to publishers who chose not to use its service.

Naver can say the action is to gauge opinion from media organizations, but that is an overbearing command from a dominant player. For fairness, Naver must not discriminate any publishers that do not subscribe to its link service.

As long as it provides news on its portal site — and as long as it stays the dominant search engine — Naver must allow fair readership of news articles from all publishers. It does not explain the potential consequences publishers face if they choose to link out. Publishers with less capabilities to pool readers through their own sites will inevitably choose to rely on Naver.

Its decision to stop paying the costs to publishers linking out also is preposterous. Naver says that Google does not pay for the news materials to publications that are linked out, but Google is essentially different from Naver in the Korean market. Google supplies news articles only to users who have downloaded the Google app.

It raises revenue purely from its services, but Naver’s web and app platforms supply edited news streams. It must share its revenue evenly with news publishers because it gains greatly through news feeds on top of ad exposure.

Yet, Naver has given publishers an ultimatum by merely telling them of the potential harm without specifying the gains. This is clearly an exploitative practice from a top player.

The Fair Trade Commission must immediately investigate whether its move complies with antitrust regulations.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 30, Page 30