Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry: South African Competition Commission Publishes Statement of Issues

17 Oct 2023

On 17 October 2023, the Competition Commission launched the Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry (the “MDPMI” or “Inquiry”) and also published the Statement of Issues. The Statement of Issues fleshes out the key issues that the Inquiry would like to explore under each area of the scope outlined in the Terms of Reference. The Statement of Issues is essentially an invitation for input from market participants and interested parties to provide their views and information to the Competition Commission on the operation of markets for the online distribution of media content and online digital advertising in South Africa.

Stakeholders are encouraged to share their perspectives on issues important to them, even if these are not specifically mentioned in the Statement of Issues.

However, the specific issues on which the MDPMI would like submissions from stakeholders and which it will be evaluating include:

  1. Trends, adoption and use of the relevant digital platforms to aggregate and display news content online and the importance of digital revenue sources for news media organisations;
  2. Whether market features distort competition for advertising revenue, consumer data and subscription fees between news media organisations and the relevant digital platforms that display and distribute news media content as intermediaries to consumers, including news aggregators;
  3. Whether the commercial relationship between news media and relevant digital platforms is characterised by imbalances in bargaining power and the impact of such imbalances on competitive outcomes affecting the news media industry, including pricing and non-price outcomes;
  4. Whether competition for the distribution, display and monetisation of news content online between news media organisations through relevant digital platforms is distorted by market features including, but not limited to, ranking algorithms, paid results, search engine optimisation, consumer and social network preferences and commercial relationships with news media organisations; and the effects of this on public access to credible news content as a public good.
  5. Whether ad tech Supply Side Platforms, Demand Side Platforms and intermediary Ad Exchanges used to surface digital advertising on websites or apps of the South African news media sector will impact on the adoption and competition considerations in scope items 1 to 4.
  6. Whether the current and future integration of generative AI systems in relevant digital platforms, including the AI review and assimilation of news media content, will impact the adoption and competition considerations in scope items 1 to 4 and
  7. The impact of scope items 1 to 5 on the quality and consumer choice of South African news media, as well as the impact on news media organisations that are small and medium-sized enterprises and/or businesses owned by historically disadvantaged persons.

Written submissions to the Statement of Issues should be emailed to by 17h00 on 14 November 2023.

For more information regarding the MDPMI, please do not hesitate to reach out to ENS’ Competition practice.