Australia probes impact of Facebook and Google on traditional media
Australia’s competition regulator began a probe Monday into how Google LLC and Facebook Inc. have disrupted media in the country.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been asked by the government to look at the impact the aforementioned companies and other digital platforms are having on traditional media and to ascertain the damage it might be doing to quality journalism.
“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. He added that the commission will approach the investigation “with an open mind and will study how digital platforms such as Facebook and Google operate to fully understand their influence in Australia.”
The investigation follows concerns around the globe that traditional media has been and still is in a predicament, often having to sacrifice the integrity of its content and its journalists to keep afloat. Last year the U.S. newspaper industry saw advertising revenues of $18 billion, way down from $49 billion a decade earlier, according to the Pew Research Center.
The writing has been on the wall regarding the downfall of the Australian press in particular for a number of years. Critics in Australia, however, have conveyed that the largest news media companies in the country failed to see what was coming and were less than innovative when faced with revenues in downfall.
Facebook has said it welcomes the investigation. “Whilst the sharing of news and entertainment content is only a small part of the content shared on our services, we take our role in the media ecosystem very seriously and invest significantly in products that support publishers,” the company said in a statement.
Google said in its own statement, “We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant.”
Even if the investigation finds that there has been major disruption by news aggregating digital platforms, the question is: What can the government do? One of the possible solutions the government has come up with is increased taxation of Google and Facebook to fund journalism.
The final report is due 18 months from now.
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