ACCC seeking public feedback as part of probe into the effects of digital platforms on media


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released an issues paper for public comment, signalling the launch of its inquiry into the effect digital platforms such as Facebook and Google are having on competition in media and advertising services markets.

As part of the inquiry, which was announced in December, the ACCC is seeking feedback from consumers, media organisations, digital platform providers and advertisers on:

  • 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.

According to ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, digital platforms like Google and Facebook are part of the sweeping technological and cultural changes overhauling the media landscape in Australia and globally.

“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,” Sims said.

“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.

“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.”

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.

Consumers may alternatively provide feedback to the inquiry more informally via the ACCC consultation hub.

As part of this inquiry, the ACCC will use its compulsory information gathering powers to obtain information from digital platforms and media organisations that is not publicly available.

The ACCC is required by the Federal Government provide a preliminary report to the Treasurer by 3 December 2018 and a final report by 3 June 2019.

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