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05 July 2018

NMA Calls For Competition Reform to Tackle Tech Giants

The News Media Association has called for review and reform of the competition regulatory regime to help tackle the negative impact of the tech giants on the publishers of original news media journalism.

In response to a BEIS consultation on modernising consumer markets, the NMA highlighted Google and Facebook's dominance of the digital advertising market and called for reform of the competition regime to help address the imbalance which is jeopardising the sustainability of quality journalism.

It comes as more business and media leaders, including the chief executives of broadcasters Sky and ITV, and of charities Barnardo’s and the NSPCC, call for the US tech companies to be required to operate on a level tax and regulatory playing field and for a new online regulator to be created.

A leader in Thursday’s Times says Britain urgently needs an Ofnet “to protect internet users from harmful content and the monopolistic behaviour of the biggest online names,” and says legislation should be introduced this autumn.

In its submission to government, the NMA said: “Review and reform of the competition regulatory regime is necessary to ensure that there is fair and sustainable competition to address the problems created by such dominant tech companies...

“The current regime has not addressed the dominance by the large online platforms and their detrimental effect upon the news media industry and related markets.

“It must therefore be updated and be adapted so that it will in practice be used to counter the detrimental impact upon the news media and digital advertising market of the digital platforms, agglomeration, data algorithms and consolidation.

The NMA has called for the CMA, Ofcom and the ICO to urgently investigate the digital advertising supply chain, the dominance of the tech platforms and their impact on consumers, advertisers and other media players and for reform of the newspaper merger regime which “unnecessarily impedes newspaper mergers and transfers of titles.”

In the BEIS submission, the NMA continued: “The CMA should be asked to examine the tech companies and address the problems created, rather than impose new restrictions upon the local and national news media. Combined or complementary action may be required from other relevant regulators.

“The regulatory regime ought not favour the dominant tech companies and shield them from regulatory action. Nor should the competition regime prevent companies within industry sectors from coming together and conducting negotiations with the dominant tech companies which are intended to address the problems created by the tech companies’ practices and dominance.”

“Changes to the substantive law may well be necessary and improvement of CMA approach, practice, procedure, tools, powers and resources must be made. These should be affected as soon as possible with appropriate legislative changes where possible, rather than merely left to some amendment of the draft Strategy Steer.”

The NMA and its members have been calling for an urgent investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into the impact of Google, Facebook, and the digital advertising supply chain on news media providers for over a year.

NMA Calls For Investigation Into Google, Facebook and the Digital Advertising Supply Chain to Combat Fake News

Ofnet Needed: Britain requires an independent online regulator with teeth