News Corp ACCC Submission: Digital Platforms Are “Undermining Publishers”

Michael Miller (Executive Chairman, News Corp Australasia) at Radio Alive 2017

A total of 57 submissions have been sent to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as part of its inquiry into digital platforms.

The submissions have now been published, including that of News Corp’s.

In the submission, News Corp details a “range of anti-competitive behaviours” of digital platforms, specifically focusing on Google, Facebook and Apple.

According to News Corp, the practices of Facebook, Google and Apple are “damaging the creation, distribution and consumption of news and journalism in Australia and undermining publishers’ advertising business models”.

In the submission, News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller called ACCC’s inquiry a watershed moment for media globally.

“For too long, platforms have avoided accountability for their actions in stark contrast to publishers committed to serving and investing in local communities in an ethical manner,” Miller said.

“The platforms built their dominance as the gatekeepers to the internet, offering consumers free services, but as our submission shows, the cost to competition and consumers is substantial.

“For consumers, these costs include reducing access to a diversity of original journalism, promoting unreliable content and echo chambers, and intrusively collecting personal data; and for publishers, digital platforms are undermining our efforts to develop new advertising and subscription models and preventing us from competing on the merits.

“These platforms are also dominating digital advertising to such an extent that advertisers have less choice and face higher prices and can find their brands presented in unsafe, unsavoury online environments.

“Few issues are more important to our industry.”

Facebook sent its own submission into the ACCC in late April.

In it, Facebook skirted around any mention of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, instead focusing on “the interconnected relationship among people, journalists and publishers, and the advertisers that are the source of most of our revenue”.

The social media giant also treads carefully when addressing publishers, rather focusing on the competitive nature of the “evolving media landscape” and Facebook’s place within in it.

Speaking on the various submissions, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said, “We appreciate the effort organisations and consumers have put into the many thoughtful and helpful submissions we received.”

“This feedback from news organisations, digital platforms, academics, advertisers, news consumers and social media users will help inform the ACCC as we conduct our inquiry.”

The ACCC will provide a preliminary report to the treasurer by 3 December 2018 and a final report by 3 June 2019.

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