Australia is investigating the influence of Facebook and Google

Pic Reuters

Pic ReutersSYDNEY

Facebook and Google have often been at pains to avoid being labelled as media companies, and suggest that they are instead platforms.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry, announced on Monday, will examine the effect that search engines, social media and other digital content aggregation platforms are having on media and advertising markets.

It will investigate whether the disruption of the news media by the United States tech giants has been detrimental to consumers and publishers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will examine whether the pair, along with other internet giants, are misusing their market power to push traditional media outlets out of the advertising market, and cash in on the work of journalists without paying for the privilege.

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A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is looking forward to "a thorough inquiry into the Australian media market".

"This inquiry will mean they will no longer be able to claim, with a straight face, that their actions have all been fair play in an open competitive market, and that the problem lies exclusively with the traditional media business model". In Britain, Facebook and Twitter have agreed to share details with authorities on Russia's interference in the Brexit referendum by using their platforms.

"As the media sector evolves, there are growing concerns that digital platforms are affecting traditional media's ability to fund the development of content", Sims continued.

Media market analyst Roger Coleman of CCZ Australia also questioned the goal of the ACCC inquiry, telling The New Daily internet disruption of Australia's mainstream media was "the great attrition".

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The final report is due 18 months from now.

The ACCC will soon distribute an issues paper outlining matters relevant to the inquiry, and will be calling for public submissions. The government further reckoned that Google and Facebook were causing a "haemorrhaging" of local media companies and damaging the "integrity of news".

"Catalogues are rated highly by consumers for information about selecting children's wear, purchasing toys, selecting clothing & fashion, purchasing cosmetics & toiletries, purchasing small electrical appliances and purchasing large kitchen/laundry appliances - whilst many consumers turn to magazines for information on Home improvements and renovations, Home interiors and furnishings and Health and fitness products and consumers turn to newspapers for information on new and used motor vehicles, real estate, employment and jobs and entertainment services".

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