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SA publishers challenge Google and Meta at Competition Commission

The media industry association Publisher Support Services (PSS) has challenged Google and Meta to be compensated for their content used on these platforms. This happened at an in-camera hearing of the Competition Commission's market inquiry into online platforms operating in South Africa.

Hoosain Karjieker, CEO of Mail and Guardian Media and chairperson of the PSS, said, “Although the initiative is led by the founder members of the PSS (Arena Holdings, Caxton, Independent Media, Mail & Guardian and Media24), the main objective of the submission goes beyond the interests of these publishers only. This is about protecting the funding and sustainability of journalism as a cornerstone of our democracy.”

“Globally, platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance. Our objective is to get them to compensate all publishers, big and small, fairly and equitably for their journalistic efforts,” Karjieker continued.

Karjieker noted the success achieved by similar efforts in other parts of the world, most notably Australia and Europe, that forced these platforms to the negotiating table to have them agree on fair compensation to publishers for their content.

The Competition Commission launched its market inquiry into online platforms operating in South Africa in May 2021, focusing on online intermediation services. This includes the market dynamics and business practices that apply across the respective platforms operating in the country.

Karjieker reiterated his invitation to other media organisations to participate. “Publishers and media owners who are not members of PSS are welcome to join our efforts or independently liaise with the Commission.”

The inquiry is expected to release its findings and report by October 2022.

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