Free TV, which is concerned about the amount of data Facebook and Google are collecting on users, says Australian advertisers have migrated away from newspapers and televisions toward Facebook and Google.
Facebook and Google must be forced to be more transparent in their advertising practices and to do more about preventing piracy and invasive data collection, the Australian TV networks say.
Free TV, the commercial television lobby, has called for the digital giants to be more accountable for the damage they have done to the Australian media industry which has seen the advertising market migrate away from newspapers and television towards the digital duopoly.
“From local content quotas, captioning obligations, advertising content restrictions, Code of Practice requirements, licence conditions and ownership restrictions, we are playing on a very unbalanced field,” the lobby says in a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into digital platforms.
The future of Australian content creation depends on new laws and regulations which will create an even playing field for the news and television industries which have been besieged by the power of Google and Facebook, the submission argues.
“In many cases the regulations applicable to commercial television were conceived in the 1980s, when we were operating in a totally different competitive environment,” Free TV says.
While welcoming the Coalition’s recent media reform including the abolition of licence fees for commercial TV, the industry has called for a relaxation of the rules around local content, children’s television and captioning.
Free TV says the regulatory burden on networks Seven, Nine and Ten amounts to a “distortion in the advertising market” and urges the ACCC to intervene to ensure the competition for advertising revenue is fair.
The ACCC inquiry is investigating the impact of Google, content aggregators such as Apple News and social media platforms such as Facebook on the state of competition in media and advertising.
Free TV says Google and Facebook are too secretive in the way they operate and there is no independent third party to check their claims about the size of their audience and reach for advertisers. They are also concerned about the amount of data they are collecting on users.
Competition chief Rod Sims says the recent Cambridge Analytica revelations have exposed how little Australians know about the extent of personal data held by Facebook and Google.
“Google and Facebook are not merely platforms, they are also media companies,” Free TV says. “They monetise content. However, unlike commercial television broadcasters that invest in the creation of content, Google and Facebook monetise content created by others, without meaningfully investing in its creation or licensing its use.
“To add insult to injury, these platforms earn significant revenue by facilitating access to illegal pirated content.”
The industry says it spends .5bn on Australian content every year or bn in programming over the last five years.
However, neither Google nor Facebook “contribute in any meaningful way towards the cost of the content that they monetise”.
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