British news publishers have clashed with Silicon Valley tech giants amid a government probe into anti-competitive behaviour in the digital advertising market.
Media organisations including the Daily Mail’s parent company and Channel 4 have launched blistering attacks on Facebook and Google over their monopoly power and “unscrupulous behaviour”.
DMG Media accused Google of using its control over the online ad market to carry out “exclusionary behaviour”, adding that the search giant charged “exploitative” fees for its services.
Channel 4 added that it was “deeply concerned” about the dominant position of the two companies, accusing them of stifling competition.
The comments came in initial responses to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has opened an investigation into major tech firms over their monopoly power, use of data, and whether they are stifling competition in the online ad market.
Facebook and Google – often referred to as the “duopoly” – have been growing their market share and are expected to take roughly 65 per cent of digital ad spend in the UK by 2021.
In June, Mail Online revealed its traffic from Google had halved after the search engine rolled out an update to its algorithm.
But Facebook played down concerns about its dominance, and argued its technology was beneficial for both advertisers and consumers.
Google said it recognised there were concerns over its transparency, but said it was working to improve its approach.
Both companies urged the CMA to take an evidence-led approach to its inquiry, and warned that any action taken should not harm consumers.
News industry body the Professional Publishers Association said: “The platforms’ market power distorts competition in the digital economy, having direct implications for businesses who produce high-quality journalism in the UK – a significant risk of negative outcomes for consumers who read publishers content for news, entertainment, education and information.”
The probe, which comes as part of a wider digital markets strategy, was launched after former chancellor Philip Hammond called for greater regulation of the digital advertising sector.
The CMA has now closed its initial invitation to comment, and is set to publish its final report in July 2020.
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