Caxton tells Competitors Fee that Google and Meta threaten free press in SA

Caxton makes submissions to the Competitors Fee’s Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry.

On 5 December, Caxton made an in depth submission to the Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry, which is investigating the distribution of media content material on South Africa’s digital platforms and promoting know-how (Adtech) markets.

Caxton outlined the central challenges that the information media business is going through within the digital age of media consumption, highlighting the dominance of Google and Meta (Fb) in digital markets. Caxton’s submission addresses the technical points at play in these markets, in addition to the distortive options which can be curbing competitors in digital markets. The whole report may be downloaded right here:

Secrecy and complexity are inherent within the digital area. Caxton views transparency as an important treatment to the corrosive actions of digital platforms. The media home encourages South Africans to familiarise themselves with Caxton’s submission to permit for a greater understanding of how these markets function.

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The worldwide digital platforms aren’t held accountable by South African authorities, nor do they contribute to the SA tax coffers. Consequently, they extract billions in income from South Africa.

The dominance of digital platforms is a basic menace to the South African publishing business.

Caxton’s non-executive chairman, Paul Jenkins, says: “Digital platforms pose probably the most basic menace to the sustainability of the free press in South Africa. Caxton absolutely helps the efforts of the Competitors Fee, however cautions {that a} delay in taking applicable motion will solely place the press in a extra perilous monetary place.

“Inquiry chairman James Hodge and Commissioner Doris Tshepe have a singular alternative to safeguard the hard-fought proper to the liberty of the press in South Africa, a proper that underpins our democratic dispensation.

“Caxton makes use of its media voice to guard and strengthen democracy in communities throughout South Africa. Because of this, these on the grassroots degree have entry to examined and verified info regarding the place they dwell. This contains essential info on neighborhood security and safety, service supply and people in energy.

“Google, Meta and different digital platforms aren’t voices – they don’t produce authentic information and so they don’t have any voice of their very own. As an alternative, they merely repeat the contents of others with out verifying their accuracy or contemplating whether or not their aggregation serves the general public curiosity.”

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Digital platforms freeride off authentic newsgathering and content material, which gives an excessive amount of worth to digital platforms. Given the every day relevance of reports, this content material facilitates a near-constant stream of site visitors in direction of these platforms. The platforms profit considerably from this site visitors and engagement. In actuality, nonetheless, this relationship is closely skewed in direction of the digital platforms, particularly when one considers the dynamics of the digital promoting market.

This setting is especially tough to navigate for native information publishers.

Native newspapers present invaluable info to native communities, providing localised insights into native authorities and politics, social points and ills, the financial system and need-to-know info of relevance to the every day lives of neighborhood members within the respective cities throughout the nation. Native titles thus present nice worth to those digital platforms. If we’re to make sure a wholesome, credible and dependable journalism business in future, this worth and the advantages thereof must be shared equitably in order that native newspapers can proceed to help democracy by selling freedom of speech and executing their public watchdog features.

Caxton urges all media organisations to take part within the MDPMI and lift consciousness of the issues going through the South African media business. The general public should be knowledgeable of those points transparently and comprehensively.

The Inquiry is scheduled to carry public hearings for stakeholders from 2 to 24 March 2024.

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