SA publishers challenge Google and Meta (Facebook) at Competition Commission

03 December 2021 - 11:51
By Shonisani Tshikalange
Platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance. File photo.
Image: ANDREW KELLY/Reuters Platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance. File photo.

SA publishers will challenge Google and Facebook (now Meta) at the Competition Commission, seeking compensation for use of their journalism by the two US technology giants.

Industry association Publisher Support Services (PSS, formerly the PDMSA) said major SA media owners had joined forces to deliver the “the opening gambit in challenging Google and Meta for compensation for content used on these platforms”. 

The publishers’ initiative is led by PSS founder members — Arena Holdings, Caxton, Independent Media, Mail & Guardian and Media24.

Mail & Guardian Media CEO and PSS chairperson Hoosain Karjieker said globally, platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance.

“Our objective is to get them to compensate us fairly and equitably for our journalistic efforts, hence we are making submissions on their behaviour in the local market to the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into online platforms in SA,” said Karjieker.

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Karjieker noted successes achieved by similar efforts in other parts of the world, most notably Australia and Europe, that forced the platforms to the negotiating table to agree on fair compensation to publishers for their content.

The commission launched its market inquiry into online platforms operating in SA in May, focusing on online intermediation services.

This includes market dynamics and business practices applicable across the respective platforms operating in the country.

Karjieker invited other media organisations to participate.

“Other publishers and media owners are welcome to join the efforts of PSS or independently make submissions to the inquiry.”

The publishers said on Thursday it was anticipated that submissions would be filed by January 2022 and in-camera hearings were planned for February 2022.

The inquiry is expected to release its findings and report by October 2022.

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