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02 September 2021

NMA Welcomes Apple’s Decision To Allow Publishers To Use Own App Payment Options

The News Media Association has welcomed Apple’s decision to consent to reader apps using a link to their websites to prompt users to sign for subscriptions, which will take effect in 2022.

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “The NMA welcomes this decision from Apple, albeit under duress, to allow reader apps to include a link to their own website payment platforms. However, this is very much a first step in allowing competition in app stores, and it is imperative for publishers that this decision is implemented without delay.

“Despite this concession, reader apps are still not able to offer their own in-app billing, given undue control and power to a small number of large tech companies. The NMA will continue to challenge such abuses of power and anti-competitive practices that are harming publishers and investment in quality journalism.”

Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video. App makers are currently banned from directing users to subscribe through a website and developers were directed to Apple’s own billing, which takes between 15 and 30 per cent of the gross sales.

Apple came to the decision as a part of a settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, which they decided to enact globally. The JFTC had been investigating Apple for “restricting business activities, such as selling digital contents of enterprises that distribute applications”.

The JFTC closed the investigation after Apple’s decision to revise their App Store guidelines.

South Korea also became the first country this week to pass a bill which bans app store operators, including Google and Apple, from forcing developers to use in-house payment platforms. The EU is also demanding the same through its Digital Markets Act.