martinibuster - 6:38 am on Nov 23, 2012 (gmt 0)
All they had to do is survey a good chunk of web publishers...
That statement needs a correction. There was a lot of input from the anti-Google side. Microsoft and other companies even created a lobbying group called FairSearch.org to fan the flames against Google. The FTC did survey competitors. Here is a link to the original article publised in Bloomberg [bloomberg.com].
Regulators are also looking at whether the ranking system’s benefits to consumers outweigh any harm suffered by rivals including NexTag Inc. and Kayak Software Corp... The FTC also is treating seriously complaints that Google has used customer reviews from other websites without permission
The FTC interviewed many publishers and companies as part of it's investigation and took their testimony. Additionally the Senate anti-trust committee held it's own investigation and took the testimony of other publishers [huffingtonpost.com]:
...members of the tech industry including Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Nextag CEO Jeff Katz, testified Wednesday at a hearing held by a U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that probed Google's search practices.
During the hearing, titled "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?”, Katz asserted that Google "doesn't play fair," while Senator Mike Lee maintained that Google "cooked" its search results so that its own listings were "always third,"
I just want to improve the discussion on this point so that it is clear that testimony was taken from all sides. Apparently the issue now is whether consumers were harmed. The FTC appears to be wavering on this point, that consumers were not harmed. This is from a legal precedence set by anti-trust suits against Microsoft. Microsoft has played a leading role in fanning the flames against Google by being one of the founding members of FairSearch.org, an Anti-Google advocacy group. Rest assured there is no lack of input from publishers, there are many ax-grinders hard at work trying to bring Google down in this affair.
If you read the above citations you will now know that if Google avoids FTC action it is not from lack of input from competitors. It's because the FTC does not have a legal leg to stand on.