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Clifford Chance

Briefings

Insights and Impacts of the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry

27 February 2019

Clifford Chance partnered with the Australian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications for a half day seminar looking at the key issues that have arisen in relation to the Inquiry, which was held on 11 February 2019.  Rod Sims, the Chair of the ACCC, provided the keynote speech for the event and spoke on the issues from the Inquiry that are most relevant to the Australian media industry. Clifford Chance antitrust partners Dave Poddar and Thomas Vinje moderated and spoke at the conference respectively.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is currently undertaking an 18-month inquiry into the effect that digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms have on competition in Australia’s media and advertising services markets. In particular, the inquiry is looking at the impact of digital platforms on the supply of news and journalistic content and the implications of this for media content creators, advertisers and consumers.

The ACCC released its preliminary report in December 2018. That report concluded, perhaps unsurprisingly, that both Google and Facebook have substantial market power in certain Australian markets.  In the case of Google these markets are in the supply of online search, online search advertising and news media referral services.  Facebook – like Google – was found to have substantial market power in the supply of news media referral services.  Facebook was also found to have substantial market power in the markets for social media services and display advertising.  The preliminary recommendations in the ACCC’s report are however wide ranging and will have ramifications beyond Google and Facebook.  As well as including measures to address Google and Facebook’s market power, the ACCC has suggested that digital platforms’ activities and the potential consequences of those activities for news media organisations and advertisers are monitored by an Australian regulator and that a general overhaul of Australia’s privacy and communications legislation occurs.  The ACCC has even made recommendations in the highly contentious copyright area.  The final report from the Inquiry will be provided by the ACCC to the Federal Government at the end of June 2019.

You can see the keynote speech by the ACCC Chairman below.