Facebook Rejects Australia Media Calls For Regulation

Facebook Faces 'Oppenheimer Moment' Over Trump Scandal
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Tech giant Facebook has opposed calls by Australian media companies for digital platforms to be regulated, amid an inquiry into their impact on competition in news and advertising markets.

The government tasked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this year with assessing whether platforms such as Facebook and Google were using their market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of users, news media and advertisers.

Australian media groups, like their peers worldwide, are losing circulation and advertising revenues to digital competitors.

Australian media tycoon Kerry Stokes, the head of major commercial broadcaster Seven, on Monday urged Canberra to take “serious action” against the two online titans.

“The government must act decisively to curtail the frightening power and influence these companies have,” Stokes told The Australian newspaper.

“The duopoly of Facebook and Google now control over 80 percent of the global digital ad market, taking away advertising dollars from local media without any of the controls and rules we must adhere to, creating an uneven playing field.”

The industry body representing commercial free-to-air television networks, Free TV Australia, echoed such views in its submission Friday, saying the two companies were virtual monopolies but had “very little regulatory oversight”.

The inquiry comes at a sensitive time for Facebook, which has come under fire globally after it admitted that the personal data of up to 87 million people worldwide — including more than 300,000 Australians — were improperly shared with a British political consultancy.

Facebook said in its submission to the inquiry on Wednesday, sent to AFP Monday, that rapid technological changes such as media digitalisation “makes them a challenging subject for regulatory intervention”.

The American firm added that “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”.

Google, which released its submission to the inquiry Monday, said it was consumers who would determine the future of news and added that it partnered with publishers such Australia’s Fairfax Media to support access to information.

“Changes in consumer and marketing behaviour have profound implications for traditional news business models. But they do not mean the death of journalism,” Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino said in a statement.

The competition commission is expected to publish its preliminary report in December, with the final report due in mid-2019.

AFP

Senate Withdraws Grazing Bill

Senate Withdraws Grazing BillThe Senate has withdrawn a bill seeking to establish a Grazing Management Agency which would ensure the creation of grazing areas across the country.

The bill which was sponsored by Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso was withdrawn along with two other similar bills sponsored by Senators Barnabas Gemade and Chukwuka Utazi.

While Senator Gemade’s bill seeks to establish a National Ranches Commission for Regulation, Preservation and Control of Ranches, Senator Utazi’s bill is seeking to control keeping and movement of cattle in Nigeria.

However, the bills were withdrawn as lawmakers noted that they all had different objectives and could not be merged.

Also, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, pointed out that the Senate lacks the power to legislate on livestock and grazing matters which the bills are intended to address

“The issues at stake here are neither in the exclusive list nor in the concurrent list. I believe therefore that it is a residual matter. It is for states to decide how to deal with it.

“I believe the matter here concerns everybody, given the level of carnage and the conflicts going on in different states. So, I feel the concern of my colleagues but unfortunately we do not have powers to legislate on matters relating to livestock in this Assembly. It is a matter reserved for the states.

“So, I believe that the bills for Senators Kwankwaso, Gemade and Utazi are beyond the reach of this National Assembly and should be accordingly withdrawn so that the states under the constitution should be able to deal with the matters which the constitution has prescribed for them.

“I will like to see somebody to show me anywhere in the exclusive list or concurrent list that has given us powers to legislate on this matter because they are not in existence,” he said.

Willie Obiano Inaugurates Petroleum Products Task Force

Willie ObianoAnambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has inaugurated the Committee on Procurement, Pricing, Regulation and Distribution of Petroleum Products in the state, with a mandate to maintain sanity and stability in the activities of the sector.

Inaugurating the 32-member committee at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, the Governor noted that the committee was an important organ in his administration that demands commitment, dedication and integrity.

He charged them, among other things, to monitor and fish out smugglers in unwholesome materials used in adulterating petroleum products and monitor the allocation of products meant for the state at the NNPC depot in Enugu and forestall their diversion.

Governor Obiano warned that government would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any member of the committee who uses the avenue to extort money from petroleum dealers or people.

Having inaugurated the committee, the members filed out and received a handshake of commitment to duty which was followed by a pledge of credible service by the Chairman of the committee, Nnamso Nwafor-Orizu.

He gave assurances of using his wealth of experience garnered in the field of oil and gas to carry out his responsibilities in the areas of limiting all forms of corrupt practices including adulteration, adjustment of pump measures and diversion of products.

Governor Willie Obiano noted that the committee’s assignment is renewable after three months.