Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Facebook and Google facing 'formal inquiry' in Australia

Pic Reuters Pic ReutersSYDNEY
Kayla Schwartz | 04 December, 2017, 14:49

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been asked by the government to look at the impact the aforementioned companies and other digital platforms are having on traditional media and to ascertain the damage it might be doing to quality journalism.

Google and Facebook will be subject to an inquiry around the impact of digital platforms on news media in Australia. "We will also consider the impact of information asymmetry between digital platform providers and advertisers and consumers".

The review was part of the price exacted by South Australian senator Nick Xenophon for smoothing the passage of law reforms allowing further consolidation of Australian media companies. "Advertising expenditure in print newspapers has been in decline for a number of years".

The ACCC's inquiry falls under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010), enabling the regulator to compulsorily obtain information and hold hearings to determine competition levels within a market.

The ACCC will have the power to compel evidence from the companies, and will look beyond just the market power of search engines and social media sites in the advertising space and into their effect on journalism more broadly, according to ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

"In the end, the inquiry should tell us if the market is being distorted and dominated, the fairness and need for better commercial terms for content providers, whether advertisers are getting a good deal and what the future holds with innovation and technological change".

Comedy queen Bharti Singh ties knot with beau Haarsh Limbachiyaa
Sharing a picture with husband Haarsh, Bharti thanked all the baraatis for joining the couple in the wedding festivities. Bharti and Haarsh came in touch with each other when Haarsh was a writer and Bharti was a performer for a comedy show.

While global internet platforms have opened content-hungry Australians to an infinite choice of worldwide publications in text, video and audio, their success in taking a rapidly increasing slice of this country's $16 billion annual advertising spend, while producing negligible local content themselves, is the point of greatest contention. The final report is due early June 2019.

The ACCC plans to hear from content creators, mainstream and niche media outlets and operators, platform providers, advertisers, journalists, consumers and small business interest groups with a preliminary report expected in December 2018.

While the federal government's announcement of the inquiry didn't mention Google or Facebook by name, it's believed that they will be the main focus of discussions.

The consumer watchdog said it will be calling for public submissions soon.

How are tech giants affecting the news and ads we consume?

"We look forward to a thorough inquiry into the Australian media market".

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