ACCC to launch probe into Facebook, Google to understand impact on journalism, advertisers


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will conduct an inquiry into the effect digital platforms such as Facebook and Google are having on competition in media and advertising services markets.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the commission will examine whether digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers.

“The ACCC will look closely at longer-term trends and the effect of technological change on competition in media and advertising,” he said.

“We will also consider the impact of information asymmetry between digital platform providers and advertisers and consumers.”

Sims noted that advertising expenditure in print newspapers has been in decline for a number of years, with most advertisers seeking alternative ways of reaching target audiences, including through digital media.

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

By holding an inquiry under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010), the ACCC can use compulsory information gathering powers and hold hearings to assess the level of competition in a market.

“We are keen to hear the views of content creators, mainstream media outlets and smaller media operators, platform providers, advertisers, journalists, consumers and small business interest groups,” Sims said.

ACCC was directed to undertake the inquiry by the Federal Government and it is expected to produce a preliminary report for public comment in early December 2018, with a final report due early June 2019.

Further information, including the terms of reference, is available at www.accc.gov.au/digital-inquiry