Free TV Australia today called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop a new access and undertaking framework to regulate digital titans that have substantial market power.
The statement comes in response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry Preliminary Report; a report which specifically mentioned the advertising power held by Google and Facebook.
Free TV Australia CEO Bridget Fair spoke of the statement: “In the rest of the economy, if a monopoly provides an essential service we regulate the terms and conditions of access.
“It’s time to apply the same thinking to digital monopolies”.
“What the ACCC Preliminary Report tells us is that Google and Facebook have substantial market power and are unavoidable business partners for Australian companies of all kinds, including the media.
“We are asking the ACCC to take the logical next step and develop a new regulatory system that will have immediate impact and support the ongoing production of news and Australian content.
“As is already the case for infrastructure and telecommunications, under our proposal once market power and revenue thresholds are met, the ACCC would have the power to set the terms and conditions of access to the digital platform.
“This would include ensuring that the digital platform did not favour its own business and that prices for advertising services are transparent,” Fair said.
Free TV’s proposed model would give the ACCC the power to arbitrate when media companies and Google or Facebook cannot agree on a fair payment for the use of content.
Fair continued: “The ACCC’s report is also very clear on the importance of Australian news content to the digital platforms.
“But not only is it important to them, it’s crucial to our democracy that local media businesses can keep investing in the full range of premium Australian content.
“That’s why we also welcome the additional financial support measures discussed in the ACCC’s Preliminary Report.
In particular, we are calling on the Government to immediately adopt a tax offset for expenditure related to the production of journalistic content, such has been recently announced in Canada.
“The ACCC has also belled the cat on the regulatory disparity between media companies and the digital platforms.
“While we would be a willing participant in yet another review process, as recommended by the ACCC, there are a number of areas where the case for reform is obvious.
“You don’t need another review to tell you that an election blackout period, which doesn’t apply online, no longer makes sense.
“Or that outdated Australian content rules from the 1980’s are well overdue for change.
“There are some areas of reform where the work has already been done and all that is missing is the resolve to make the necessary changes.
“The ACCC should lead the way in these areas with clear recommendations for substantive change,” Fair said.
Google executive Prandu Nayak, in preparation for his discussion with the ACCC, warned that too much transparency could end up hurting the consumer.