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ACCC Questions Meta Impact On Media Companies As Issues Raised Over Media Content

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is set to investigate the impact of overseas reforms and technological developments of digital platforms spanning the likes of Meta, Google, and X.

THE ACCC is also asking media Companies who grew traffic to their sites off the back of Google and Meta, to reveal how much money they make from Facebook and Instagram, as it prepares to decide whether the tech giant should be forced to the negotiating table to support Media Companies in Australia.

Several media Companies in particular online sites, who moved away from growing alternative traffic other than what Google and Meta delivered via Facebook are now claiming that they are struggling to survive without a handout from the big social media sites who they have accused in the past of ‘stealing’ their content to generate traffic.

Trends in search quality, are among the issues to be considered by the ACCC as it considers the state of competition in general internet search services in Australia.

Several media outlets are suffering a deep downturn in advertising resulting in hundreds of jobs being slashed while other such as The Daily Aus are claiming that they will use half a million readers despite not having content that is unique fr4om what other mainstream media is featuring of a day.

Several who have become evangelists of socialist and left wing agenda’s such as the ABC and SBS as well as The Guardian are now struggling to attract consumers to their site, many who have turned off their style of news reporting with many claiming bias and a lack of balance in their reporting.

Despite the shift in audiences many media organisations are now looking to Meta for lost revenues because brands that have in the past engaged directly, with advertisers and their agencies are now dropping a lot of media Companies from their schedule because there is nothing unique about their media business model.

The ACCC is calling on consumers, businesses, and industry participants to provide feedback about developments in general search services in Australia as part of its five-year digital platform services inquiry.

An issues paper, released today, seeks views about the level of competition in general search services and trends in search quality, including what consumers value in search services such as from their news services and the relationship between the level of competition in the market and search quality.

 

The impact of regulatory and industry developments, including the overseas introduction of choice screens and the emergence of generative AI, is also a focus.

“Significant changes have occurred since the ACCC last examined search services in 2021. We’ve seen new laws introduced overseas that place obligations on so-called gatekeeper search engines and the emergence of new technologies, like generative AI, which have changed the way consumers search for information online and may be impacting the quality of the service they are receiving,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“The ACCC wants to understand the impact of these developments on general search services and ultimately, how they affect competition and consumers.”

The ACCC previously considered competition and consumer issues in general search and web browser services in its September 2021 and Digital Platforms Inquiry reports. Those reports found that Google’s search engine being pre-installed as a default search service on devices was contributing to it being the dominant search engine in Australia.

The ACCC’s September 2022 report included recommendations for new laws aimed at protecting and increasing competition in digital platform services, including a potential mandatory code for certain designated search services that could ensure more choice for consumers and lower barriers to expansion by rivals.

The ACCC has welcomed the Government’s in-principal agreement to these recommendations.

The new report will also look at legislative reforms rolling out or being considered in the European Union, United Kingdom and other jurisdictions that place obligations on search engines to promote competition.

“We are eager to hear from businesses and consumers about their experiences with general search services to better understand how regulatory and industry developments are affecting the level of competition and consumers in the market for general search services.” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

Consumers, businesses and interested parties are encouraged to make submissions to [email protected] by 17 April 2024.

In the fifth report of the Digital Platforms Services Inquiry, the ACCC made a range of recommendations to bolster competition in the digital economy, level the playing field between big tech companies and Australian businesses and reduce prices for consumers.

The recommendations include new service-specific mandatory codes of conduct for particular ‘designated digital platforms,’ based on principles set out in legislation.

This new regulatory regime would work alongside Australia’s existing competition laws to address anti-competitive conduct, unfair treatment of business users and barriers to entry and expansion by potential rivals.

The ACCC has also proposed new mandatory obligations on all digital platforms to address scams, harmful apps, fake reviews, including notice and action requirements and stronger verification of business users and reviews.

These proposed measures have been agreed to in principle by the Government.

Scott Purcell, co-founder of Man of Many told the Financial Review that he is wary that forcing Meta to negotiate could push the owner of Facebook to ban all news on its platform, effecting his business. Louise Kennerley

Meta, initially agreed to pay at least $70 million to outlets in 13 deals struck under the News Media Bargaining Code, a law introduced in 2021 by the Coalition to correct a power imbalance between news outlets and Facebook and Google.

Now they want to bail on that deal claiming the investment is not delivering a return.

The ACCC is advising Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones whether to force Meta to negotiate deals with news outlets, known as “designation.”

The AFR claims that it is a politically loaded question that will have a significant effect on Australia’s media landscape.



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