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Britain follows Australia’s lead in digital platforms scrutiny 

The British government has announced that it will probe the impact of Google and Facebook on the media 

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Following the ACCC’s crackdown on Facebook and Google as part of the Digital Platforms Inquiry, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will now turned its attention to the internet giants’ impact on media companies in their market.  

Britain, like Australia, will examine whether the dominance of the digital platforms has impacted the ability of media organisations to compete in the digital advertising market, and what the affect is on British consumers.  

Jeremy Wright, Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told Parliament on February 12 thatthe “combination of market conditions threatens to undermine the future financial sustainability of journalism.”  

“The majority of people now read news online, including ninety one percent of 18 to 24-years-olds,” he said.  

“And as this shift takes place, publishers have struggled to find ways to create sustainable business models in the digital age.” 

His speech to Parliament drew attention to the importance of public-interest journalism in democratic societies.  

“That is the type of journalism that can hold the powerful to account and is an essential component of our democracy.”  

The announcement of proposed CMA study echoes the landmark ACCC probe into the practices of digital platforms, which will be completed in June 2019.  

The ACCC released its preliminary report in December 2018. Read the NewsMediaWorks summary of key points and findings here.  

The UK announcement also follows the release of the Cairncross Review, an independent report examining threats to news media (particularly print media) in Britain.  

The review was “asked to consider the sustainability of the production and distribution of high-quality journalism, and especially the future of the press, in this dramatically changing market. It has looked at the overall state of the news media market, the threats to the financial sustainability of publishers, the impact of search engines and social media platforms, and the role of digital advertising.”  

The Cairncross Review makes multiple references to the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry, signaling the global significance of Australia’s pushback against the likes of Facebook and Google.  

The Review publishes ten preliminary recommendations of the ACCC, as well as the nine areas for further investigation.


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