ACCC to investigate Google and Facebook’s impact on Australian news and advertising

The federal government has instructed the ACCC to investigate the impact of online platform service providers on Australian media and advertising markets, the Treasurer’s and Communication Minister’s offices jointly announced this morning.

The ACCC will look at five key areas in its digital platforms inquiry

While the minister’s office was careful not to mention Facebook or Google when contacted by Mumbrella, it’s understood the two companies will be the main focus of the investigation which forms part of the agreement with the Nick Xenophon Team to pass the government’s media reform package earlier this year.

The two digital platforms were subject to sustained criticism from Senator Xenophon and various witnesses appearing before this year’s Senate inquiry into the future of public interest journalism.

In the announcement, the government has directed the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission to consider the following questions:

  • the extent to which platform service providers are exercising market power in commercial dealings with the creators of journalistic content and advertisers;
  • the impact of platform service providers on the level of choice and quality of news and journalistic content to consumers;
  • the impact of platform service providers on media and advertising markets;
  • the impact of longer-term trends, including innovation and technological change, on competition in media and advertising markets; and
  • the impact of information asymmetry between platform service providers, advertisers and consumers and the effect on competition in media and advertising markets.

A Google spokesperson told Mumbrella the company intends to cooperate with the inquiry: “We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant.”

Facebook also indicated its cooperation, telling mumbrella: “Whilst the sharing of news and entertainment content is only a small part of the content shared on our services, we take our role in the media ecosystem very seriously and invest significantly in products that support publishers. We look forward to a thorough inquiry into the Australian media market.”

Mumbrella is seeking details from the minister’s office of when the ACCC is due to report back to the government.




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