In Brief

Facebook and Google facing ‘formal inquiry’ in Australia

Competition regulator will analyse the influence of digital giants on the media industry

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 government has ordered a “formal inquiry” into the firms following a “international calls for tighter regulation of technology companies”, the Financial Times reports.

According to BBC News, “traditional media companies have been squeezed by online rivals and suffered a sharp drop in advertising revenues”.

The government in Canberra has “rising concerns about the future of the media sector following years of falling profits, newsroom job cuts and the rise of fake news”, the website adds.

Rod Sims, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chief, said the governing body “will study how digital platforms such as Facebook and Google operate to fully understand their influence in Australia”.

The agency will examine “the effect of technological change on competition in media and advertising”, he explained.

However, Peter Cox, an independent media analyst, told Reuters that it was unclear what measures the competition regulator might suggest taking if it does find that the country’s media industry is “increasingly anti-competitive”. 

The investigation could be “a stepping stone towards another type of reform, such as tax”, Cox said.

The ACCC’s preliminary report is due at the beginning of December next year, says Engadget, while the final report won’t be released until June 2019 at the earliest. 

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