The Australian government competition authority is entering the debate on the future of the media by launching an investigation to determine whether Facebook and Google have disrupted the industry.
"We will examine whether the platforms are exercising market power in commercial transactions to the detriment of consumers, media creators and advertisers," Rod Sims, director of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on December 4.
"Through our research, the ACCC will carefully examine the impact of digital platforms on the level of choice and quality of news and content produced by Australian journalists," said Sims, expressing a more global concern about the relationship between social networks and publishers.
The Australian government ordered the investigation in September, as part of a larger effort to reform the media law, sparked by concerns about the state and quality of journalism in the country, where 2,000 media jobs have been cut since 2011.
The change in print advertising to digital has hurt news organizations worldwide because Facebook and Google have attracted most of the digital advertising dollars. "As the media sector evolves, concerns grow that digital platforms are affecting the ability of traditional media to fund content development," said Sims. A final report of the investigation is expected in June 2019.
Governments around the world are grappling with the rapid growth of Silicon Valley's Internet giants who insist they are not media companies, even though they dominate the distribution of media and resist regulation. The United States has been investigating Russian interference through digital media in the 2016 presidential election, as well as spreading false news. In Europe, government entities have fined them billions of euros for errors related to their search for market dominance.