In 2017 the Australian Government directed the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) to conduct an inquiry into the advertising market power of Google, Facebook and other digital platforms, and the impact of that power on the provision of public interest journalism.
The ACCC released a Preliminary Report in December 2018 in which it outlined its concerns regarding the market power held by Google and Facebook and their impact on Australian businesses, in particular, their ability to monetise their content.
The ACCC ‘s Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report made many 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.
PIJI’s submissions to the preliminary and final stages of the inquiry recognised the need for positive measures on the part of government that support public interest journalism, media plurality and media diversity.<
- Highlighted the option of tax concessions and/or incentives for eligible media organisations to produce journalism that has high public benefits, and
- Broadly supported the ACCC’s preliminary views regarding the need for greater transparency and regulation of digital platforms.
PIJI’s Submission to the Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report recommended:
- A review of media regulation, with a view toward establishing a platform-neutral framework;
- A grants scheme focused 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 tax incentives for investment in public interest journalism should be properly assessed for their potential effectiveness. PIJI has since developed an ongoing research program into taxation to encourage investment in public interest journalism that demonstrates its viability.