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06 August 2020

NMA Tells CMA Taskforce: Urgent Action Needed to Safeguard Journalism

The News Media Association is urging the Government to implement measures to restore competition to the digital advertising market place in advance of wider reforms.

In its response to the call for evidence, the NMA said: “It is difficult to overstate the challenges publishers face stemming from tech platforms’ excessive market power in search, social media, and digital advertising. The news media industry is not in a position to wait for wholesale reform of competition law in digital markets; decisive action is needed to avert the deterioration of the quality and plurality of journalism in the UK.”

It added: “Urgent pro-competitive reform to rebalance the platform-publisher relationship and restore competition to the digital advertising market is needed to secure a sustainable future for news.

“It is vital these measures are implemented separately and in advance of wider reform of competition law in digital markets to safeguard the future of the news media industry.”

In response to the CMA Digital Markets Taskforce consultation, the NMA has proposed that the codes of conduct include a mechanism by which publishers may secure payment for their content by platforms, as well as obligations to carry and surface the industry’s trusted news subject to publishers’ content.

The NMA recommends that the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) be located within the CMA or Ofcom if this would ensure rapid implementation and that the CMA should consider taking interim action to tackle both the sources of market power and their negative effects.

“As the design and implementation of a specialised pro-competitive regime would still require some time, we have asked that the CMA consider the interim enforcement actions available to it with respect to platforms’ abuse of market power in digital advertising, search, and social media,” the NMA said in its submission. 

The CMA made many recommendations relating to the codes of conduct, powers available to the DMU and pro-competitive interventions, all of which the NMA has welcomed.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a draft mandatory code last week which, if implemented, would compel Google and Facebook to negotiate with the Australian media and quickly secure fair payment for news content.

The draft code targets acute bargaining power imbalances between Australian news companies and Google and Facebook and would enable media companies to collectively negotiate with digital platforms.

Please find the NMA's response in full to the Digital Media Taskforce's call for information here.