Digital platforms and journalism in Australia: analysing the role of competition law

Baskaran Balasingham, Tai Neilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

News media businesses compete with search engines and social media networks for advertising revenue but at the same time depend on the latter to reach and interact with audiences. The Digital Platforms Inquiry (DPI) completed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that media businesses’ dependency on digital platforms gives companies like Google and Facebook substantial bargaining power over Australian news media businesses. This development over the past decade has caused negative repercussions for the choice and quality of news available to Australians. In response to thegse findings, Australia’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code 2021 extends the application of competition law into digital news and advertising markets. The reform is intended to address the impact of digital platforms on the commercial viability of Australian news companies. In this article, we assess the application of competition law to the relationship between news media and digital platforms, including the strength of the DPI findings and the appropriateness of the resulting reforms. We argue that after decades of deregulation of the media sector in Australia the News Media Bargaining Code is a hybrid legislation, which introduces news media industry regulations under the guise of competition law. While we see a continued role for competition law in digital platform markets, this article indicates the challenges posed by digital platforms on media pluralism and the limitations of a market-driven approach to news media policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-318
Number of pages24
JournalWorld Competition: Law and Economics Review
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • News Media
  • Digital Platform
  • advertising
  • regulation
  • media policy
  • news media businesses
  • digital platforms
  • Australian competition law
  • market power
  • media pluralism
  • Digital Platforms Inquiry
  • News Media Bargaining Code

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