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Media Bosses Welcome ACCC Findings, Calls For Urgent Action

Australia’s media industry has for the most part welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) report into the market power of digital platforms, although is urging the government to take swift action right away to get ahead of this issue.

According to a report on The Australian, media executives thanked the ACCC and chair Rod Sims, and welcomed the “strong conviction” of the Treasurer and Communications Minister in this matter.

Following the release of the report, Josh Frydenberg warned the digital giants that their days of “living on an unregulated frontier are over” and that “they will be held to account for damage they have wrought on consumers and traditional media”.

“They need to be held to account, and their activities need to be more transparent,” Frydenberg told The Australian.

“This report comes days after the US Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook over $7 billion for misleading consumers about the use of their data.”

“The world has never before seen so much commercially sensitive and personal data collected and aggregated in just two companies.”

News Corp Australasia chairman Michael Miller told The Australian that they were “encouraged by the stated determination of the government”.

“The recommended regulatory and legislative measures must be powerful enough to correct the adverse effects associated with digital platforms and their impact on Australian consumers and businesses, including news content creators,” Miller continued.

“We will work with the government to ensure their commitment is matched by real change.”

Echoing Miller’s sentiments, Nine Network chief executive Hugh Marks told The Australian that while “the devil was in the details, the major concerns of media businesses had been addressed”.

“There’s no silver bullet at any one point in time that is going to completely change the world, but this is a massive step in the right direction,” Marks told The Australian.

“Sticking your head in the sand ain’t going to be a solution – real change is needed, and it is needed now.”

Under the ACCC recommendations, digital platforms would be forced to create its own code of conduct with news media organisations, which will be administered by media regulator ACMA.

The code will monitor the sharing of data with news media, notifications of changes to ranking or display, and an undertaking that a platform’s actions will not impede news media business opportunities to monetise their content.

Moving forward, the new body within the ACCC would monitor and investigate instances of potentially anti-competitive conduct and conduct causing consumer harm by digital platforms.

It will also be conducting a 18-month inquiry into the competition for the supply of ad tech services and the supply of online advertising services by advertising and media agencies.

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