Australia to probe Facebook Google over media disruption



SYDNEY: Australia’s competition regulator said on Monday it would investigate whether U.S. online giants Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google has disrupted the news media market to the detriment of publishers and consumers.

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.

The government ordered the probe as part of wider media reforms, amid growing concern for the future of journalism and the quality of news following years of declining profits and newsroom job cuts and the rise of fake news.

“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The inquiry also would study how Facebook and Google operated to “fully understand their influence in Australia”, he added.

A Google spokesman said, “We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The idea for an ACCC investigation was hatched during media reform negotiations in Parliament earlier this year, which resulted in a relaxation of ownership laws to allow the country’s big players to boost their market share to better compete against online disruptors.

Independent media analyst Peter Cox told Reuters it was unclear what measures the competition regulator could recommend to the government even if it found the country’s media sector was increasingly anti-competitive.

“You could see this as a stepping stone towards another type of reform, such as tax,” said Cox.

Jurisdictions around the world, including the European Union, are grappling with how to tax technology giants with global operations.

Currently corporate taxes are paid where firms have a physical presence, which allows digital multinationals to book most of their profits where they have set up headquarters as opposed to where they make their money.

The Australian probe will have power to demand information from businesses and hold hearings. It is due to make its final report in 18 months.



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Confronting digital disruption Register for COMMA now



KUALA: It is curtain raiser for Communications Asean: The Content Summit (COMMA), a two-day symposium organised and produced by Astro AWANI.

How do we define digital distruptor? The fear of cannibalisation? What holds business head honchos from plunging full throttle into embracing digital transformation?

Or is it the fear of the unknown, especially every media practitioners are embracing this whole wide world of digital realm.

The media and communication industry was the first to be impacted by the ‘digital disruptor’, said IDC for ASEAN Region Managing Director, Sudev Bangah.

Essentially, it is about thinking out of the box.

According to Bangah, it is about seeking for solutions to stay ahead of tech-savvy disruptor, who have remained frugal as they seek solution out of their paradigms.

“They (the media companies) were not able to solve that and ended being extremely competitive with the digital disruptor.

The only way to move forward and create a win-win situation is to get the media companies and the digital disruptor to co-exist.

“As that occur, users will be at the centre of the focus of the organisations as they present fresher and more relevant content,” he added. 

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations Malaysia, all major local newspapers have recorded huge drops in circulation. 

Harian Metro recorded a drop of 62.5 per cent – from 379,169 copies in 2012 to 142,262 in 2016.

The country’s oldest newspaper, the New Straits Times is steadily embracing the impact with circulation at 41.6 per cent from 93,321 copies at the end of 2012 to 54,490 copies at the end of last year.

Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian each saw their circulation figures fell by 30 per cent within similar period of time.

 

This was acknowledge by New Straits Times Press Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Hamid  who said that the digital disruption has affected the circulation and profitability of the company.

In fact he said the company has to stop their print circulation in Sabah and Sarawak as a move to cut costs.


 

 

If you’re keen to be part of the digital media camaraderie at COMMA, do register at www.comma.my or walk in to the registration desk at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
 



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