Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. leads charge against Facebook, Google in Australia probe

News Corp, the Australia’s main newspaper group, led the charge in arguing that Facebook and Google’s dominance of digital advertising significantly undermined the news industry. (AFP)
Updated 03 May 2018
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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. leads charge against Facebook, Google in Australia probe

  • Murdoch and other executives from the company have long led calls for Facebook and Google to “level the playing field” and pay news companies for their content
  • Facebook opposed calls for tighter regulation, saying the rapidly changing digital landscape made the platforms “a challenging subject for regulatory intervention”

SYDNEY: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation accused Facebook and Google of “anti-competitive practices” in one of dozens of submissions to a probe of the tech giants released Thursday by Australia’s competition watchdog.
A total of 57 media companies, advertisers and journalist groups put forward their cases for changes in the operations of the Internet titans, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reported.
News Corp, the country’s main newspaper group, its main competitor Fairfax Media and commercial broadcasters led the charge in arguing that Facebook and Google’s dominance of digital advertising significantly undermined the news industry.
“A number of digital platforms possess substantial market power and are engaging in anti-competitive practices that prevent publishers such as News Corp. Australia from competing on the merits,” the company said in a 144-page submission.
“These practices have the potential to profoundly damage the creation, distribution and consumption of news and journalism in Australia.”
Murdoch and other executives from the company, which also owns The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London, have long led calls for Facebook and Google to “level the playing field” and pay news companies for their content.
But The Australian newspaper said the ACCC submission, by alleging market abuses by the two companies, “represents a dramatic escalation of hostilities.”
The group stopped short of demanding regulation of Facebook and Google, saying “current laws may be sufficient to deal with our concerns.”
“However, it may also be the case that some further legislative, regulatory and/or policy intervention or changes are required.”
Fairfax complained that its main mastheads had seen their advertising revenue fall from A$800 million ($600 million) in 1999 to just A$225 million ($169m) in 2017 as Google and Facebook gobbled up digital advertising dollars. As a result, the group has shed hundreds of jobs.
But it also stopped short of demanding new regulations, saying this should be “a last resort,” and argued instead for the digital platforms to work collaboratively on solutions for the news media.
Distancing itself from News Corp, Fairfax also opposed making platforms pay for news content, saying this would be “impractical” and post risks for editorial independence.
Australia’s main television broadcasters — Seven, Nine and Ten — demanded some combination of revenue sharing and tighter regulation of the tech companies’ advertising activities.
“The ACCC must intervene to ensure that the competition for advertising revenue is occurring in a fair and effective manner,” said the Ten Network, recently purchased by US broadcaster CBS.
In its own submission to the ACCC made public last month, Facebook opposed calls for tighter regulation, saying the rapidly changing digital landscape made the platforms “a challenging subject for regulatory intervention.”
“Consumers often have the most to gain from market disruptions caused by technological change and the most to lose from interventions that are designed to protect particular business models from the effects of those changes,” it said.
Google added in its submission that “changes in consumer and marketing behavior have profound implications for traditional news business models. But they do not mean the death of journalism.”
The competition commission is expected to publish a preliminary report in December, and a final report next year.


Police arrest newspaper publisher in midnight raid in Indian Kashmir

Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, a journalist and the publisher of the Urdu-language newspaper Daily Afaaq, leaves after a court granted him bail, in Srinagar, June 25, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Police arrest newspaper publisher in midnight raid in Indian Kashmir

  • Journalists in Kashmir find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups battling for independence

SRINAGAR: Police arrested the publisher of one of the most widely read newspapers in Indian-controlled Kashmir in a midnight raid over a decades-old case, the police and his brother said on Tuesday, highlighting the difficulties facing media in the region.
Tension has run high in the Himalayan region since more than 40 Indian police were killed in a February suicide car bomb attack by a militant group based in Pakistan.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is at the heart of more than seven decades of hostility between nuclear archrivals India and Pakistan. Each claims it in full but rules only a part.
Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, 62, a journalist and the publisher of the Urdu-language newspaper Daily Afaaq, was arrested at his home in the region’s main city of Srinagar, half an hour before midnight on Monday.
“It is harassment,” his brother, Mohammad Morifat Qadri, told Reuters. “Why is a 1993 arrest warrant executed today? And why against him only?“
Qadri was released on bail after a court appearance on Tuesday.
The case dates from 1990, when Qadri was one of nine journalists to publish a statement by a militant group fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. An arrest warrant for Qadri was issued in 1993, but it was never served.
Qadri had visited the police station involved in the arrest multiple times since the warrant was issued, most recently in 2017 to apply for a passport, his brother added.
Asked why Qadri was arrested at night, Srinagar police chief Haseeb Mughal told Reuters, “Police were busy during the day.”
The Kashmir Union of Working Journalists condemned the arrest, saying it seemed to be aimed at muzzling the press.
“Qadri was attending the office on a daily basis and there was absolutely no need for carrying out a midnight raid at his residence,” it said in a statement.
Journalists in Kashmir find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups battling for independence.
Both sides are stepping up efforts to control the flow of information, with the situation at its worst in decades, dozens of journalists have told Reuters.
India is one of the world’s worst places to be a journalist, ranked 138th among 180 countries on the press freedom index of international monitor Reporters Without Borders, with conditions in Kashmir cited as a key reason.