News May 7, 2018

ARIA, commercial radio among 57 making submission to digital platforms inquiry

ARIA, commercial radio among 57 making submission to digital platforms inquiry

The Australian Recording Industry Association () and the commercial radio sector were among those who made the 57 submissions to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Digital Platforms inquiry.

These have been made public on the ACCC website.

The inquiry was launched last December by the consumer watchdog to get a fix on the detrimental effect that digital and social media as Google and Facebook have on the media and advertising sectors, their market share and how and if their operations affect the quality of journalism and news reporting by the traditional media.

Of concern was that Australia might repeat the US example where Facebook and Google now have 75% of all digital advertising.

The submissions ranged from the ABC, News Corp, Southern Cross Austereo, Stan and the Australian Radio Network to the Australian Association of National Advertisers and Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, to the Digital Industry Group Inc, Facebook and Google.

ARIA’s submission was a different take on the market distortion – which it wants the ACCC to tackle – in that in the shift from physical to digital, “the Australian recorded music industry has decreased over 33% in the past ten years” and the problem of illegal content.

The trade body stated that the “Value Gap” – the difference between the value of music to these platforms and what it pays out – “arises not because of the normal operation of the market, but as a result of a legal flaw that has led to the misapplication of online liability rules (“safe harbor” rules) which enables some digital services to use and provide access to music without first negotiating fair licences with the rights holders. 

ARIA also complained that these platforms’ refusal to take liability for illegal content on their systems forces creators to meekly put up with low remuneration, ineffective take-down services or “initiate expensive and protracted legal proceedings, a course of action that is completely impractical for independent artists and songwriters or small record labels and music publishers.”

protested the “gaping inequality between the regulations applicable to traditional broadcasters compared with digital platforms” which it says  narrows the content it can create and “divert significant portions of its resources into compliance with the regulatory framework.

“This contrasts with digital platforms, which are able freely to meet new audience demands and direct almost all resources towards the creation of further revenue.”

It also criticised digital platforms for “misleading metrics provided to advertisers … (of) user engagement and audience size” and no regulated quotas and quality standards for local content.

Southern Cross Austereo warned that digital platforms were increasingly taking control of audio content through smart speakers and in-car systems, while Australian Radio Network protested the “confusing and inconsistent metrics” used by such platforms.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance recommended digital platforms be considered media companies for regulatory purposes, and made to pay for content to journalists.

A joint submission from the film and TV industries also asked the ACCC to make the platforms take responsibility for illegal content and not to make money from it.

The Digital Industry Group Incorporated argued that not only did platforms provide a “broadening of the diversity of voices” in the media, but often allowed traditional media to tap into their huge audiences.

Google argued it created new customers and revenues for content creators while Facebook insisted that “robust intense and dynamic competition for consumer attention is driving rapid innovation and technological change (and) provides value for people.”

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