Incoming Publishers Association President Calls For Greater Regulation Of Tech Platforms

Nigel Newton has used his inaugural speech as president of the Publishers Association to call for greater regulation of online platforms, saying that government must “restrain the tech platforms through legislation now or we risk publishing’s future.”

Chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing Mr Newton succeeds David Shelley, Hachette UK chief executive, who remains an officer of the Publishers Association. The presidency transferred to Mr Newton at the annual general meeting, where Antonia Seymour, chief executive of IOP Publishing, was also elected to the position of Publishers Association vice-president.

In his speech, Mr Newton referenced the industry’s dependence on tech platforms as a major route to customers. He said: “It is not in the long term interest of readers, authors, or the UK’s world leading publishing industry when that dependence can be exploited by those platforms.

“That is why I am calling today on the government to live up to its commitments and bring forward legislation in the Queen’s Speech next month to give the Digital Markets Unit at the Competitions and Markets Authority the power and the teeth it needs to do its job.

“This is the only way that we can ensure fairness reigns in negotiations between tech platforms and their suppliers as it now does in the grocery industry since similar action was taken 13 years ago for that industry. I hope we will soon see action at a European level, with the EU already agreeing legislation to regulate digital market ‘gatekeepers’.

“The dependency of our industry as a whole on large tech platforms as gatekeepers to our retail markets and the gross imbalance of power which this gives rise to need to be urgently addressed.

“My message to the Secretary of State for DCMS is a simple one – as an author you know how important books are to this country’s culture and economy. You must restrain the tech platforms through legislation now or we risk publishing’s future.

“At the same time as correcting this imbalance, we must acknowledge our huge good fortune that the tech platforms kept goods flowing to people’s doors even as they were locked down at home and other meeting platforms enabled working from home to flourish. But having a world-leading tech sector requires world-leading regulation.”