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ACCC launches news and digital platforms inquiry

The ACCC has launched a public inquiry into the impact of digital platforms on competition in media and advertising services markets, in particular in relation to the supply of news and journalistic content.

“Digital platforms like Google and Facebook are part of the sweeping technological and cultural changes overhauling the media landscape in Australia and globally,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“While these technological changes have brought many benefits for consumers, this inquiry will have a particular focus on examining whether the changes affect the quality and range of news supplied to Australian consumers.”

“Considering the longer term impacts of digital platforms and the ability of traditional media to remain financially viable will also be key to understanding the media and advertising markets,” Mr Sims said.

“Our aim is also to understand better the digital platforms’ business models and how they operate behind the scenes, and the evolving nature of the way consumers search for and receive news in Australia. We are particularly interested in the extent to which digital platforms curate news and journalistic content.”

As part of its inquiry into the impact of digital platforms on media and advertising markets in Australia, the ACCC will explore:

  • Whether digital platforms have bargaining power in their dealings with media content creators, advertisers or consumers and the implications of that bargaining power.
  • Whether digital platforms have impacted media organisations’ ability to fund and produce quality news and journalistic content for Australians
  • How technological change and digital platforms have changed the media and advertising services markets, and the way consumers access news
  • The extent to which consumers understand what data is being collected about them by digital platforms, and how this information is used
  • How the use of algorithms affects the presentation of news for digital platform users.

The ACCC is seeking submissions in response to its issues paper by 3 April 2018 and will issue a preliminary report into its findings in December 2018. The final report is due by June 2019.