Australia’s media executives demand Albanese government create codes of conduct against big tech companies

Mediaweek Free TV

The demand for codes of conduct is aimed at stopping big tech companies from dominating the market and behaving anti-competitively

Australia’s media executives have demanded the Albanese government establish codes of conduct to stop big tech companies, like Google and Meta, from behaving anti-competitively and leveraging market power. 

Media bosses are calling the need for new competition laws “urgent” a year on from the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry report that highlighted concern caused by big tech companies about “significant consumer and competition harms”, as reported by the AFR

A two-page letter was sent to assistant treasurer Stephen Jones and communications minister Michelle Rowland, written by Free TV chief executive Bridget Fair and signed by media executives such as Nine Entertainment CEO Mike Sneesby, Seven West Media boss James Warburton, Paramount’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey, and CRA CEO Ford Ennals.

The letter highlighted that while many Australian households and businesses rely on digital platforms such as Google and Meta, the ACCC has found that big tech companies have high market dominance that “provides them both the incentive and the opportunity to behave anti-competitively to leverage that market power and to insulate themselves from the emergence of competitors.”

media executives

Left to right: Mike Sneesby, James Warburton, Beverly Beverley McGarvey and Ford Ennals

Such anti-competitive behaviour highlighted by the ACCC includes “self-preferencing”, which sees a company put its own products first in search results. Another is demanding large commissions for purchases in apps and forcing advertisers to buy through its own platforms rather than for media trading companies to compete.

The AFR also noted that the Commission also found Google and Meta amass large collections of user data, but do not act on scams, false advertising or fake reviews.

Last year in the ACCC’s fifth report of the Digital Platform Services Inquiry, chairwoman Gina Cass-Gottlieb said: “consumer and competition harms across a range of digital platform services that are widespread, entrenched, and systemic.”

“We strongly agree with the ACCC that existing competition law is not sufficient to promote and protect competition in the digital platform services markets,” the media bosses say.

“Australia needs a new competition framework for digital platforms built around ex-ante rules to correct the anti-competitive conduct that has been identified by the ACCC.”

Top image: Bridget Fair

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