Publishers are 'encouraged' by Australia's plans to regulate digital platforms

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 12 December 2019

Major publishers News Corp Australia and Nine says the government's reponse to the ACCC's inquiry in to digital platforms will go some way to protect consumers and ensure a viable media industry. 

Hugh Marks at Nine says the announcement by the government  is much needed and timely.

"It provides a clear timeline and platform for our industry to be able to engage with the social media platforms on a basis we ultimately believe will be a win win not only for our industry and the people that work in it, but the social platforms as well," he says

"We congratulate the prime minister, minister Fletcher and the government on its bold statement and look forward to the next steps in achieving recognition of the value that our content and our journalism means to the social platforms and their audiences."

Michael Miller, News Corp Australasia executive chairman, says he's encouraged the government is taking action on a number of fronts to deal with the power imbalances the digital platforms hold over media businesses.

“Most of these initial steps are aligned with where the world is heading but more reforms are needed to protect consumers and ensure a vibrant and viable media industry," he says.

“The new unit within the ACCC to oversee digital platforms and an inquiry into the murky waters of ad tech are welcomed - they are important and necessary.

“However, the government's approach of a voluntary code of conduct to oversee commercial arrangements as a first step appears out-of-kilter with leaders of other jurisdictions who have advocated firmer action.”

Seven CEO James Warbuton says it’s particularly pleased to see the government address Australian content requirements.

“We see this as a real turning point, as for too long legislation has lagged well behind technological evolution, disadvantaging Australian companies and providing foreign digital platforms with a free ride,” Warbuton says.

However, Warbuton says he’s disappointed the government has rejected recommendations of a mandatory take down scheme for copyright infringing material.

“But it is pleasing that the Government has committed to reviewing copyright enforcement mechanisms during 2020,” he says.

“We look forward to working with the government as this process moves forward, to ensure a regulatory environment that is appropriate in the digital age, to better protects consumers and provide a more level playing field for Australian businesses.”

Paul Anderson, Ten CEO, also welcomed the response from the government this afternoon.

“It’s great the government is making a serious attempt to address the deep-rooted dominance of the online tech and streaming giants,” Anderson says.

“On free-to-air content regulation, the issues are clear and the answers are already there. We just have to get cracking and get it done.”

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair says it looks forward to engaging with the process outlined by the government in early 2020 to quickly reform the "ageing" Australian content framework.

“It is hard to overstate the pressing need for action in this area to allow commercial television broadcasters to focus on delivering the content our audiences want to watch rather than servicing outdated quota obligations,” Fair says.

“This is particularly the case for children’s content, where audience demands and behaviour have changed dramatically.

“Our investment in great local content will also be better supported by the proposed voluntary commercial bargaining code of conduct between digital platforms and media businesses.

“Importantly, the government has reserved the right to create a mandatory code should agreement not be reached with the digital platforms.”

Peak industry body Commercial Radio Australia welcomed the government’s response.

“The Government has responded within their stated time frame, which is an encouraging sign of how seriously they are taking these issues and their intent to bring about change," says CEO Joan Warner. 

“The industry is very pleased there will be concrete moves towards harmonisation of media regulation, as commercial radio remains one of the most overregulated platforms in the media and communications sector. We hope the “phased” approach does not mean we have to wait years for effective change nor will have to go through another round of inquiries and submission writing.

“We are supportive of the development of voluntary codes to address the power imbalance.  We look forward to working with the ACCC and other stakeholders to develop a practical and workable code.

“We also note the Government has specifically stated it will review Australian and children’s content requirements for free-to-air television services. We assume that the heavy local content requirements and associated compliance burden on local radio stations will also be part of any such review in the light of the Government’s stated wish to have a more harmonious and fair media regulation framework that can  be applied across digital and traditional media.”

The commercial radio industry believes the review of advertising restrictions is also timely.

Sophie Madden, CEO of the Media Federation of Australia: "The MFA welcomes the clarity around the process and the roadmap included within the government’s response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry Report recommendations. We intend to fully co-operate with government on the enquiry into ad tech services and agencies. We support and are committed to any initiative that aims to provide greater clarity and improved trust." 

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