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12 November 2020

Whittingdale: Strong Case For Government Intervention Following CMA Digital Report

There is a “a strong case for intervention by Government” to tackle the power of the tech giants following the Competition and Markets Authority’s report into the digital marketplace, Minister for Media and Data John Whittingdale said yesterday.  

In an interview with Amol Rajan recorded at the Radio Academy Festival for The Media Show, John Whittingdale said the power of the tech giants was a big issue for the industry which the Government was looking at.  

He said: “That is something that the Competition and Markets Authority, as you probably are aware, have recently produced a report. The Government is looking at that and I think there is a strong case for intervention by Government where it appears that competition is being impeded by the power of one or two very, very big companies.”

He added: “Monopoly abuse and the need to promote competition is something which all free market Conservatives believe in.”

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said last month that the CMA will commence action to curb the harmful practices of the tech giants if the Government fails to act in the next year.

The News Media Association welcomed the CMA’s report  when it was published in July and has called for the Government to act quickly to curb the impact of the tech giants on news media publishers and consumers.  

 In the wide ranging interview broadcast yesterday, Mr Whittingdale spoke about a range of issues including the importance of trusted journalism for democracy, the need for Government to support local news media, and the impact of the BBC on the commercial news sector.   

Asked about the media’s role underpinning democracy, Mr Whittingdale said: “I think the media are crucial for a properly functioning democracy. One of the things which has worried me for a very long time and which I’m still attempting to try and address is the decline of local news reporting.

“It is very difficult for voters to decide in local council elections, or mayoral elections, who to vote for if they are not able to have objective factual reporting of the performance of those institutions.”

Mr Whittingdale said he was “very proud” of the Local News Partnership between the NMA and the BBC which was established to help address the decline of local news media.

He added: “Trusted media is absolutely essential for the democratic process to work properly.”

Asked by Mr Rajan whether the BBC “does too much in some bits of the market,” Mr Whittingdale responded: “The purpose of the BBC, and this isn’t just in radio but applies just as much in radio, is to provide an alternative which you probably would not find as easily in the commercial sector.”