The Media and Digital Platforms Market Investigation (MDPMI) has been launched by the Competition Commission (Commission).
Examining the distribution of media content on digital platforms in South Africa and the advertising technology (adtech) market that connects buyers and sellers of digital advertising inventory.
The study was established under section 43B(1)(a) of the Competition Act 89 of 1998 (as amended) to determine the market characteristics of digital platforms distributing news media content and the associated adtech market. This stems from concerns that there may be. , which may restrict, distort or impede competition and may have an adverse impact on South Africa’s news media sector.
Statement of the problem and request for information
MDPMI has also published a Request for Issues and Information (RFI) for platforms, adtech companies and media outlets following the publication of the final terms of reference in September 2023.
During this initial phase, MDPMI will conduct two rounds of information gathering, with a public hearing scheduled for March 2024.
Terms of reference, issue submissions, management schedules and participation guidelines are all available at MDPMI website MDPMI then encourages all interested stakeholders and the public to submit comments on the Statement of Issues by November 14th.
The role of large-scale digital platforms
MDPMI tracks a number of global studies and investigations led by competition authorities regarding the impact of digital platforms on news media publishers, particularly in terms of advertising revenue generation and the sustainability of quality news content. Masu.
These studies highlight that large digital platforms, such as search engines and social media sites, play an important role in the distribution of news content and can influence referral traffic and payments for unbiased content. I made it.
These global studies also examined the adtech market and potential competitive concerns arising from concentration and conflicts of interest.
South Africa is seeing a similar trend towards greater consumption of digital news sources, driven by increased smartphone penetration and affordable internet access.
An important tool for news organizations
The distribution of news content through digital platforms has become an important means for news media companies to reach consumers, and their reliance on these platforms will increase over time.
This change has affected the cost and revenue structure of South African news media businesses, with traditional and print advertising revenues decreasing while digital advertising revenues are increasing.
However, developments in the digital platforms and adtech markets may impact competition for these revenue sources, which is a key focus for MDPMI.
The study also assesses how these markets impact the visibility and competitiveness of smaller news outlets, including community and African language news outlets, and the diversity of news available to consumers. It’s planned.
MDPMI will primarily focus on major digital platforms such as search engines, social media sites, video sharing platforms, and news aggregation platforms, as well as demand- and supply-side adtech market participants and ad exchanges.
Additionally, the study will take a forward-looking approach to assess the impact of new technologies adopted by digital platforms, such as generative AI search support like ChatGPT, on businesses in the South African news media sector.
Importantly, the scope of the study is limited to companies within South Africa’s news media sector, including news publishers and broadcasters.
A critical moment for the media industry
At the launch, Commissioner Doris Tsepe emphasized the importance of MDPMI.
Tsepe emphasized that the media plays an important role in keeping the public informed and ensuring the smooth functioning of democracy, while the study delves into various issues facing the sustainability of the media. he pointed out.
“This research comes at a critical time for the media industry, as news consumption rapidly moves online and traditional funding sources for print and broadcast advertising decline,” Tsepe said.
Opportunities and challenges for media
MDPMI is led by Chief Economist and Acting Committee Vice Chair James Hodge and served by Paula Frey.
Outlining MDPMI’s focus areas, Mr. Hodge said that as media consumers increasingly rely on video sharing platforms, news aggregators and social media to access and monetize news, the diversity of news and public interest He said there is a need to promote sexuality. Journalism.
In his speech, Frey pointed to the rise of digital platforms, which pose both opportunities and challenges for media, including the need for sustainable business models.
“these [challenges] Most recently, AI, social media pressure to get stories out faster amidst a tsunami of misinformation and disinformation, online harassment, global challenges such as the Ukraine war, economic pressures, dwindling news media resources, It is caused by technological disruptions such as Post. COVID-19 and the challenge to freedom of the press, freedom of the press and information,” Frey said.
Mr. Frey is a veteran South African media practitioner with national and international experience, and his journalism career began in the 1990s.She was the executive news editor of star And after that saturday star.
For many years, Frey has been dedicated to advancing excellence in news organizations and journalism locally and across Africa by providing training, mentorship and support through initiatives such as Frey College and Frey Intermedia .
During this period, she also held the position of Africa Director of the Interpress Service and also served as President of the Press Agency. new humanitarian.
Mr Frey is a founding board member of the Accountability Lab and has served as Deputy Commissioner of the Press Ombud and Public Representative of the SA Press Council.