The Coalition Government has today released the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry final report. This follows the release of the ACCC’s Preliminary Report on 10 December 2018.
In December 2017, the ACCC was directed by the Government to inquire into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms, and digital content aggregators on the state of competition in media and advertising services markets. The Inquiry formed part of a package of reforms to modernise and update Australia’s media laws.
Since that time, the ACCC has conducted an extensive and detailed inquiry over 18 months, having issued around 60 statutory notices requiring the provision of documents, receiving more than 180 public submissions and conducting multiple stakeholder forums.
The ACCC has provided the Government with a substantial Final Report on issues that have wide-ranging implications across society and the economy.
The ACCC’s final report makes clear that digital platforms are an important innovation that have fundamentally changed the way that media content is produced, distributed and consumed.
In their report, the ACCC has set out 23 recommendations to respond to the substantial market power that has arisen through the growth of digital platforms, their impact on competition in media and advertising markets and implications for news media businesses, advertisers and consumers.
The Government recognises that news and journalism is an important public good and that with Digital Platforms collecting and using large volumes of personal information, consumers need to be properly informed about the data collected, how it is being used and by who.
It therefore accepts the ACCC’s overriding conclusion that there is a need for reform - to better protect consumers, improve transparency, recognise power imbalances and ensure that substantial market power is not used to lessen competition in media and advertising services markets.
The Government also accepts that there is a need to develop a harmonised media regulatory framework.
The precise form of the reforms and a detailed Government response to the report’s recommendations will be informed by a public consultation process, led by Treasury and involving the Department of Communications and the Arts as well as the Attorney-General’s Department.
The consultation process will run for 12 weeks and will enable all interested stakeholders to provide feedback on the report and its implementation.
Following these consultations, the Government intends to finalise its response to the report by the end of the year.
The report is available via the ACCC website.