The Google Apps webpage is displayed on a computer screen in New York. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News.)

Charges of Google's 'Illegal' Search Get Prime-Time TV Treatment

(Bloomberg) -- A “60 Minutes” segment devoted to assertions that Alphabet Inc.’s Google wields a destructive monopoly in online search hammered home the notion of the company’s dominance during a time of heightened public concern with technology giants, while not surfacing new allegations.

The segment on the CBS television program highlighted how critics and rivals, such as Yelp Inc., are trying to bring Europe’s antitrust approach to Google to the U.S. Margrathe Vestager, the European Union competition commissioner, told CBS that she is intent on stopping Google’s "illegal behavior" in search, suggesting that the regulator isn’t appeased with the company’s proposed solution for the hefty charges the EU filed last year.

Alphabet shares fell 1.7 percent on Friday morning when the subject of CBS show was announced. The stock closed the day down 1.3 percent to $1069.64 in New York.

The episode featured guests who argued Google abuses its dominance in search and search advertising. It didn’t show any evidence that U.S. lawmakers or enforcement agencies will target the company, according to a transcript. Nor does the segment mention the potential cases Vestager is pursuing against Google for its Android mobile software and advertising business.

The EU is still weighing Google’s remedy for Vestager’s one formal case, the charge that Google promotes its own services in its shopping search results, which brought a $2.7 billion fine. Europe could eventually levy a fine if it finds Google didn’t comply with its order last year to give equal treatment to shopping search rivals.

Most analysts see long odds of U.S. regulators bringing antitrust charges against Google. Should that happen, the case will probably end in a settlement with little material impact on the tech giant, a Bloomberg Intelligence report said on Friday. Google declined to speak to “60 Minutes” but gave the news magazine a statement denying that it’s a monopoly.

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