South Africa’s investigates unfair competition of digital platforms in the news industry
The inquiry will assess market features that may distort competition for advertising revenue between news media organizations and digital platforms.
South Africa’s competition commission has announced an investigation into whether digital platforms such as Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google are engaging in unfair competition with news publishers by using their content to generate advertising revenue.
The commission aims to examine market dynamics that may distort competition for advertising revenue between news media organizations and digital platforms, as well as whether imbalances in bargaining power contribute to this competition. James Hodge, Chief Economist and Acting Deputy Commissioner, highlighted the growing reliance of media consumers on video-sharing platforms, news aggregators, and social media for news access and revenue.
The investigation will encompass a range of digital platforms, including general search engines like Google and Bing, social media platforms like Meta and X, news aggregation platforms, video-sharing platforms like YouTube and TikTok, and ad networks like Google Ads. In addition, the inquiry will also explore the use of generative AI technologies, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and how they utilize original news content in generating output.
Why does it matter?
Commissioner Tshepe emphasized how vital the inquiry is, particularly in light of the rapid shift of news consumption to online platforms and the decline in funding from traditional print and broadcast advertising channels. There is also an increased need for understanding and addressing the impact of these digital platforms on competition to help promote diversity in news and public interest journalism.