ACCC starts digital platform inquiry

1204
There are growing concerns digital platforms are affecting traditional media’s ability to fund the development of content, according to the ACCC.

AN inquiry into digital platform providers such as Facebook and Google to be carried out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is keen to hear from consumers as well as the media industry.

The federal government directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to set up the inquiry, which will look at the effect digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms are having on competition in media and advertising services markets.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the commission was going into the inquiry with an open mind and would study how digital platforms such as Facebook and Google operated to fully understand their influence in Australia.

“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,’’ he said.

“The ACCC will look closely at longer-term trends and the effect of technological change on competition in media and advertising.

“We will also consider the impact of information asymmetry between digital platform providers and advertisers and consumers.”

Mr Sims said advertising expenditure in print newspapers had been in decline for a number of years.

“Recent ACCC merger reviews have shown that most advertisers are spending less on print newspapers and finding alternative ways of reaching target audiences, including through digital media.

“As the media sector evolves, there are growing concerns that digital platforms are affecting traditional media’s ability to fund the development of content.

“Through our inquiry, the ACCC will look closely at the impact of digital platforms on the level of choice and quality of news and content being produced by Australian journalists.”

By holding an inquiry under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010), the ACCC can use compulsory information gathering powers and hold hearings to assess the level of competition in a market.

“We are keen to hear the views of content creators, mainstream media outlets and smaller media operators, platform providers, advertisers, journalists, consumers and small business interest groups.’’

The ACCC is expected to produce a preliminary report in early December 2018, with a final report due early June 2019.

Further information, including the terms of reference, is at www.accc.gov.au/digital-inquiry