ACCC to scrutinise impact of Facebook, Google on media, advertising

Government directs ACCC to inquire into “digital platform providers”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched an inquiry into the effects of “digital platform providers” such as Facebook and Google on the media landscape.

Treasurer Scott Morrison MP today directed the ACCC to inquire into the impact on competition in the media and advertising services markets of search engines, social media and “other digital content aggregation platforms”.

The terms of reference issued by the treasurer include assessing the “extent to which platform service providers are exercising market power in commercial dealings with the creators of journalistic content and advertisers” and the impact of online services on the “level of choice and quality of news and digital content”.

The inquiry will also look at the impact of platform and service providers on the media and ad market, the impact of longer-term trends including technological changes, and the “impact of information asymmetry between platform service providers, advertisers and consumers and the effect on competition in media and advertising markets”.

“The ACCC goes into this inquiry with an open mind to and will study how digital platforms such as Facebook and Google operate to fully understand their influence in Australia,” ACCC chairperson Rod Sims said in a statement.

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

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

“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.”

The ACCC will issue a preliminary report within 12 months and a final report within 18 months.

The ACCC expects to release an issues paper early next year.

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