The boss of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has restored some confidence in the news media sector during a speech in Sydney yesterday.
Speaking at the International Institute of Communications’ Telecommunications and Media Forum, Rod Sims outlined how the ACCC would it would be examining the likes of Facebook and Google during its inquiry into digital platforms.
The investigation covers four key areas – one of those being the impact of digital platforms on the quality of news and journalism in Australia.
“Quality is extremely hard to assess, but broadly speaking we will be investigating whether the reduction in advertising revenue prevents publishers and broadcasters from delivering quality journalism, by which we mean investigative, verified and diverse journalism,” he said.
“Journalism is a highly valued profession, and crucial to our lives. Just like we are well advised not to rely on amateur doctors, perhaps we should not rely on amateur journalists.”
Sims said the inquiry will also look at whether digital platforms have an unfair competitive advantage due to the unequal treatment of regulation.
“The digital platforms are clear competitors to media companies in the case of attracting advertising spend, but the relationship on the content side is more complicated and there are a number of important questions: ‘Are the platforms subject to defamation law or journalism’s codes of conduct?’ ‘Should they be, and how practical is this?’ ‘How does copyright law apply to the digital platforms?’,” he said.
The market power of digital platforms and whether they are sufficiently transparent in the collection and use of consumer data and are complying with the Australian Consumer Law will also come under the microscope.
Sims said questioning the impact of digital platforms on society is vital for both Australia and the world.
“How we approach the proliferation of digital platforms, and how they collect and manage our data, is one of the defining questions of our age,” he said.