CRA calls for urgent regulation of big tech companies

The commercial radio industry has warned of irreparable damage to Australian media businesses due to the expansion and market dominance of tech giants in a submission to the ACCC.

In its submission, Commercial Radio Australia has proposed that a new part of the Competition and Consumer Act should be introduced to mandate codes for Google, Meta, Apple and Amazon, especially when it comes to online audio feeds to smart speakers and transparent access to usage data and ad insertion.

CRA has called for urgent regulations to stem the anti-competitive behaviour of big tech, with CRA’s new CEO Ford Ennals emphasising the need for rapid reform:

“Australian media business are suffering significant harm as they compete with tech giants for advertising and consumer attention. We are calling for mandatory codes to regulate the business behaviour of the big four – Google, Meta, Apple and Amazon.”

CRA‘s submission is in response to the ACCC’s previous discussion paper and latest interim report on updating competition and consumer law for digital platform services, released this month. The ACCC is due to make recommendations to Government in September.

The industry has welcomed recent steps by the ACCC to curb the imbalance between digital platforms and news media businesses, such as the introduction of last year’s News Media Mandatory Bargaining Code, but Ennals says the pace of regulatory change is too slow.

“The growth of tech market dominance is outpacing regulatory action. There’s a real risk that we will simply run out of time to find regulatory solutions to reverse the damage to media businesses.” 

Maintaining free access to radio on smart speakers is of particular concern to the industry and CRA has urged the ACCC to look at digital platform dominance within that market sector. Ennals says mandatory codes will address uncompetitive behaviour and issues which not only negatively impact business but are also detrimental to Australian consumers.

“The collection and use of data through the ad tech chain, for example, is troubling. Digital platforms increasingly monopolise the collection of data flowing from advertisements and other content on the audio industry’s digital platforms. There is little protection for the privacy of consumers throughout this process and data is ultimately concentrated in the hands of a few monopoly players.”

CRA is advocating for mandated codes for tech companies to create more interoperability with their platforms to enhance market competition and offer choice for consumers who are often locked into specific digital ecosystems.

Other mandated codes proposed by the CRA include: the adoption of measurement methodology by digital platforms to generate transparency regarding claims of user engagement and audience size, data separation arrangements, clear information supplied to media businesses that enable them to understand the way in which the services along the ad tech supply chain are priced, and regulations to prevent self-preferencing and conflicts of interest by digital platforms.

radioinfo is also aware of a range of fake radio personality accounts on Facebook trying to scam listeners, we are investigating and will bring you more on this issue soon.

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