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By Max Mason, Source :Financial Review

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will examine the impact of Facebook and Google vacuuming up advertising dollars on access to quality news, as the Silicon Valley giants benefit from content made by traditional media companies with falling revenue.

In a broad-ranging inquiry into the impact of digital platforms, such as Google and Facebook, who have up-ended advertising markets across the world, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is calling for submissions from a range of media players, new and old, by April 3.

The ACCC outlined five potential outcomes in its Digital Platforms Inquiry Issues Paper, released on Monday morning, including:

  • “findings regarding structural, competitive or behavioural issues in the relevant markets, increased information about competition, pricing and other practices in the supply of online news and journalistic content and advertising services to Australian consumers;
  • “Improved transparency for Australian consumers regarding media, advertising services, and news and journalistic content on digital platforms, ACCC action to address any behaviour that raises concerns under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, and recommendations to the Government for law or policy change.”

The ACCC is planning to present a preliminary report to Treasurer Scott Morrison by December 3 with a final report by June 3, 2019.

 It its statement of issues, the competition regulator raised a number of potential concerns, including reduced funding for quality news and journalism.

“Access to a plurality of high-quality news and journalistic content benefits Australian consumers by enabling them to make informed judgments on the issues of the time and to effectively participate in a democratic society,” the paper said.

“Yet the growth of digital platforms and their increasing share of advertising revenue has challenged the business models of traditional media companies, particularly those reliant on advertising revenues such as newspaper publishers and broadcasters. A key concern is that lower advertising revenues are impeding the capacity of traditional media companies to fund the production and distribution of news and journalistic content.”

The regulator is also expected to look at the use of personal data, consumer privacy and the impact of algorithms supplying news content to users reducing diversity of viewpoints. 

“This may create a ‘filter bubble’ effect where users may find themselves receiving less exposure to new information or conflicting viewpoints. A counterargument, however, is that digital platforms have improved accessibility to online content and have broadened rather than narrowed the diversity of news and comment available to consumers,” the issues paper said.

 Original Link to this story :http://www.afr.com/business/media-and-marketing/advertising/accc-to-probe-how-facebook-google-hurt-quality-journalism-20180225-h0wmvp