The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s inquiry into the advertising market power of Google, Facebook and other digital platforms, and the impact of that power on public interest journalism.

The final report of the inquiry can be accessed here.

Government response to the inquiry

On 12 December 2019, the Government announced its response to the Digital Platforms Inquiry. Among other things, it announced its intention to:

  • Establish a special unit within the ACCC to monitor on competition in digital platform markets; and
  • Address bargaining power imbalances through the development of a voluntary code of conduct between platforms and news media companies.

The Government also announced that it would not support changing tax settings in order to encourage more investment in public interest journalism.

In April 2020, the Australian Government announced that it would move from a voluntary code of conduct to a mandatory code.

Final report

The ACCC released its final report of the Digital Platforms Inquiry on 26 July 2019. Chapter six of the report deals with the impact that changing advertising market conditions are having on the production of public interest journalism. The ACCC made recommendations including:

  • Stable and adequate funding for the public broadcasters;
  • Grants for local journalism;
  • Tax settings to encourage philanthropic investment in public interest journalism; and
  • Greater funding for digital media literacy.

The ACCC dismissed other changes to tax settings that have been proposed, including making news subscriptions deductible for individuals or a tax incentive for investment in public interest journalism.

PIJI submitted a response to the report to Government on 12 September 2019. Our recommendations included:

  • A review of media regulation, with a view toward establishing a platform-neutral framework;
  • A grants scheme focussed on local journalism, with the recognition that other areas of need are likely to become apparent over time;
  • The establishment of a Journalism Australia statutory authority to provide grants and conduct research and evaluation on the industry;
  • Longer funding cycles for the public broadcasters; and
  • Changes to tax settings to encourage philanthropic investment.

PIJI also recommended that the idea of incentives for investment in public interest journalism not be dismissed before being properly assessed for potential effectiveness. We have begun to undertake that assessment.

Read PIJI’s response to the final report.
Dr Margaret Simons, 12 September 2019.

Preliminary report

The preliminary report was released on 10 December 2018. In it, the ACCC outlined its concerns regarding the market power held by Google and Facebook, including their impact on Australian businesses and, in particular, on the ability of media businesses to monetise their content.

PIJI participated in consultation with the ACCC in early 2019 and submitted a response to the preliminary report.

Read PIJI’s response to the preliminary report.
Eric Sidoti, 20 February 2019

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