Competition Commission SA Launches Probe Into Online News Distribution

Competition Commission SA Launches Probe Into Online News Distribution
Photo: 20.03.2023 150

Inquiry will investigate the effect of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook on traditional media in the country.

The Competition Commission SA on Friday published a draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for a market inquiry into the distribution of media content on digital platforms in South Africa.

Technology giants have become public enemy No 1 for traditional media in the past decade. Industry stalwarts argue that by luring away readers and advertisers, platforms such as social media are narrowing the news agenda and even, some say, threatening the future of journalism. 

The Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry (MDPMI) will evaluate and determine the nature and extent to which digital platforms impact the news media sector in South Africa. Interested stakeholders have until April 20 to submit written comments on the ToR of the MDPMI.

It is the Competition Commission’s view that there may exist market features in digital platforms that distribute news media content that impede, distort or restrict competition, and which may have adverse implications for the news media sector of South Africa. This imbalance can have implications on fair payment for content and the sustainability of independent journalism, the Competition Commission warns.

Accordingly, the broad focus of the inquiry will be on the interaction and dependency of South African news media businesses on relevant digital platforms as an intermediary, distributor and link to online users for the dissemination of news content online; and the impact on news media businesses to aggregate, display, create and monetise their news content online.

The main digital platforms that the inquiry will focus on include search engines, social media sites, video-sharing platforms and news aggregation platforms.

“The inquiry will also take a forward-looking approach and evaluate new technologies adopted by digital platforms, such as generative artificial intelligence search support and the significance these may have on the operations of businesses in the South African news media sector,” 

the Competition Commission comments.

Source: Business Day, Engineering News

digital markets  South Africa 

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