NME: Publishers Are Suffering From Apple’s Commercial Practices

European publishers have welcomed the European Commission’s decision to send Apple a statement of objections, following a complaint introduced by Spotify in 2019, pointing out that news publishers are also suffering from Apple’s commercial practices.

In a statement, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said the Commission’s preliminary conclusion was that Apple abused its dominant position for the distribution of music streaming apps through its App Store and distorted competition in the music streaming market.

Like Spotify, European news publishers suffer from Apple’s commercial practices, News Media Europe, of which the News Media Association is a member, said.

The news media industry in Europe has serious concerns over Apple’s behaviour in the online marketplace and expresses the hope that the formal probe will guide Apple in applying fair and reasonable business terms on its app store and iOS platform, with the recognition that Apple’s dominant market position also comes with special responsibilities.

Wout van Wijk, NME executive director, said: “The European Commission’s Statement of Objections validates our long-held beliefs of just how harmful some of Apple’s commercial practices are for the digital economy. The stakes for consumers and businesses couldn’t be higher and we are greatly encouraged by this development. We hope other tech giants can draw lessons from this case”.

Within the iOS environment, Apple owns the customer relationship and data of consumers of news content, even if they use the apps of news publishers. In doing so, Apple undermines the investments made by news publishers in the production of journalistic content and the direct relationship between news readers and their favourite news brands, NME said.

“We hope the Commission’s action will prevent other anti-competitive practices of concern, including when it comes to self-preferencing, excessive pricing, transparency, and other forms of marketing restrictions. Going forward, the Spotify-Apple case should set a key precedent for anti-trust enforcement in digital markets and inform discussions on the Digital Markets Act,” NME added.

In a separate development, Politico reported that the French Senate’s culture committee today adopted an amendment that would require platforms such as Google and Facebook to strike licensing deals with press publishers or face fines in case state arbitration doesn’t work.