NMA Welcomes CMA Market Study Into Online Platforms

The News Media Association has welcomed the Competition and Markets Authority’s announcement that it is to undertake a market study into the online platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Announced as part of its digital markets strategy launch yesterday, the CMA said the study would “consider the sources of any market power, the way they collect and use personal data, and whether competition in digital advertising is producing good outcomes for consumers.”

If the CMA finds evidence of problems, it could make detailed recommendations to Government which build on the broad proposals from the Furman Report.

The NMA said: “The NMA and our members have been calling for the CMA to conduct a market study into the tech platforms for more than two years, so this is a very welcome development.

“For years, the tech giants have been exploiting news media publishers’ content online while contributing next to nothing back into journalism, and it is now time for this to be urgently corrected.”  

 The CMA said its strategy explains how the CMA intends to respond to recommendations made by the Furman Report for greater regulation of digital markets and how its existing merger and enforcement tools can be adapted for the digital age.

CMA chairman Andrew Tyrie said: “It is our job to ensure that companies innovate and compete. And every bit as much, it’s our job to ensure that consumers are protected from detriment. Implementation of the Furman Report should help a lot. As part of the work announced today, we will be advising Government on how aspects of Furman can most effectively be implemented.

“Much about these fast-changing markets is a closed book to most people. The work we do will open them up to greater scrutiny, and should give Parliament and the public a better grip on what global online platforms are doing.

“These are global markets, so we should and will work more closely than before with authorities around the world, as we all consider new approaches to the challenges posed by them.”

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “The CMA has already made great strides in our efforts to protect people online, including securing a victory for holidaymakers using hotel booking sites and cracking down on social media influencers who are not upfront with their followers about being paid to promote a product.

“The market study will help us further lift the lid on how major online platforms work, especially how they collect and use personal data, how they monetise their content through digital advertising, and what this means for competition. The findings from this work will be used to influence the direction of policy and regulation in the digital sector.

“Most of the UK population uses the internet, with 97 per cent of internet users accessing search engines to look for things online, and around 70 per cent of UK adults having a social media account. While people enjoy many of these sites for free, revenue from digital advertising provides one of the main ways in which online firms can provide their services without charge.

“The market study will examine concerns about how online platforms are using people’s personal data, including whether making this data available to advertisers in return for payment is producing good outcomes for consumers.

“The CMA will examine whether people have the skills, knowledge and control over how information about them is collected and used, so they can decide whether or not to share it in the first place.

“Linked to this, the CMA will consider concerns about the market power of certain sites and examine whether the control they have over people’s data is making it harder for rivals to compete for business, to the detriment of consumers.”