Australia looks at impact Facebook and Google has on traditional media

Pic Reuters

The Turnbull government has requested for the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) to begin an investigation into Facebook and Google's power in the media landscape.

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 news follows Roy Morgan's latest report, affirming that advertising in Australia is increasingly moving online, adding that the majority of consumers consider the internet their go-to source for "purchase-related information".

The launch of this inquiry is part of the Australian government's Broadcast and Content Reform package that aims to help support jobs and media diversity in the country.

Silicon Valley tech giants would have to take some responsibility for the issues the media industry is now facing in Australia, with a decline in advertising spending, Senator Griff said.

It is no secret that there are a handful of websites and services that dominate the web, like Google for search, and Facebook for social media.

"As the media sector evolves, there are growing concerns that digital platforms are affecting traditional media's ability to fund the development of content", the ACCC's Mr Sims said.

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In an announcement made on Monday, Australia's competition regulator stated it was looking into the allegations of disruption made against US companies like Facebook and Google.

While global internet platforms have opened content-hungry Australians to an infinite choice of worldwide publications in text, video and audio, their success in taking a rapidly increasing slice of this country's $16 billion annual advertising spend, while producing negligible local content themselves, is the point of greatest contention.

By holding an inquiry under Part VIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010), the ACCC can use compulsory information gathering powers and hold hearings to assess the level of competition in a market.

The ACCC expects to release an issues paper early next year.

The final report is due 18 months from now.

Google said in a statement, "We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant".

While the federal government's announcement of the inquiry didn't mention Google or Facebook by name, it's believed that they will be the main focus of discussions. Google, however, refused to divulge its market share in Australia.

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