NMA Welcomes New Report Urging Government To Bring Forward DMU Legislation ‘Without Delay’

The News Media Association has strongly welcomed a new report urging the government to publish a draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill that would help deter predatory practices by big tech firms “without delay.”

Responding to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s new report ‘Post-pandemic economic growth: state aid and post-Brexit competition policy’, NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “We strongly welcome the Committee’s recommendation for government to publish the draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill without delay.

“This legislation will support competition in the digital economy, driving down prices for consumers and small businesses – allowing households to keep more of their money; while helping to level the playing field between news publishers and big tech platforms. 

“We welcomed commitments made by the incoming Prime Minister during his leadership campaign to bring forward the DMU legislation in the autumn – and to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which is also urgently needed  – and look forward to working with his government to achieving these objectives which are vital for finding a sustainable future for trusted journalism in this country.”

The report said: “The Queen’s Speech announced a Draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill, to promote competition, strengthen consumer rights and protect households and businesses. The Draft Bill is expected to increase the CMA’s consumer enforcement powers to tackle consumer detriment and to strengthen the CMA’s ability to fine businesses that abuse their market position, by reducing the minimum turnover threshold for immunity from financial penalties from £50 million to £20 million and imposing penalties of up to 10 per cent of global annual turnover where consumer protection laws are broken.

“We welcome these proposals, but there is as yet no sign of the Draft Bill.

“The Draft Bill would also give the Digital Markets Unit, which has been established within the CMA in shadow form and which is working to operationalise the future UK competition regime for digital markets, the enforcement and other powers it needs to fulfil its role. Within digital markets there is strong evidence of abuses of market dominance which warrant intervention. We encourage the CMA to investigate these instances closely and to collaborate internationally to promote further competition between digital firms. Meanwhile, consumers and others are at risk. The Draft Bill should be published without delay.”

In July, Rishi Sunak pledged to take forward in the autumn the vital legislation to give the Digital Markets Unit the teeth it needs to level the playing field between news publishers and the tech platforms. Responding to a letter from Owen, Mr Sunak also said he would repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 before the next general election if selected.