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04 December 2017, 02:49 | Jodi Jackson
The Australian government has ordered the competition watchdog to investigate Google and Facebook's impact on the ...
Australia's competition and consumer regulator has announced it is investigating digital giants Google and Facebook to assess whether they are harming the country's media industry.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to know if internet companies are hurting the interests of consumers, content creators and advertisers.
Media market analyst Roger Coleman of CCZ Australia also questioned the objective of the ACCC inquiry, telling The New Daily internet disruption of Australia's mainstream media was "the great attrition". The inquiry would also include other digital content aggregators, distribution platforms and search engines. "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 spokeswoman said.
By 2017, analysis was showing that internet advertising, now at 52 per cent of total ad spend, was projected to increase to 65 per cent by 2021.
Chair of the ACCC, Rod Sims, said the body would be going into the inquiry "with an open mind and will study how digital platforms like Facebook and Google operate to fully understand their influence in Australia".
In the US, lawmakers grilled Facebook, Google and Twitter last month over how foreign nationals used social media platforms to spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election. In Britain, Facebook and Twitter have agreed to share details with authorities on Russia's interference in the Brexit referendum by using their platforms.
Like their rivals globally, Australia's traditional media companies have been squeezed by online rivals, as advertising dollars have followed eyeballs to digital distributors such as Google, Facebook and Netflix Inc. "Through our inquiry, the ACCC will look closely at the impact of digital platforms on the level of choice and quality of news and content being produced by Australian journalists".
"We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant", A Google spokesperson said.
The ACCC is expected to produce a preliminary report late next year.
The ACCC expects to release an issues paper early next year. The government further reckoned that Google and Facebook were causing a "haemorrhaging" of local media companies and damaging the "integrity of news".
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