The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

Yes. The issue is that new digital intermediaries like Google, a powerful search engine, Facebook as a social network, Apple as a mechanism for getting newspaper apps, all place themselves between the news provider and the consumer. So one concern would be if any one of those, or perhaps a few of them collectively, became so important that they were the main means of getting news. They would at least have the scope then, through their business policies, to start influencing the nature of news suppliers they provided access to and the ease with which we, as individuals, could find the news that we wanted to go to.

I'm not suggesting that they do that at the moment. Indeed I think most would say that they try and provide a wide range of news sources which are of some relevance to their consumers, but nevertheless the possibility exists.

We have looked at this issue before in the context of digital broadcasting and digital transmission systems, where, at a European level, it was decided that it was important, whatever the distribution channel you chose as a consumer, that you should have access to a wide range of broadcast services, and in particular to public broadcast services, whether you opted for cable or for satellite or for terrestrial transmission.

It seems to me there may come a time where these gatekeepers are almost equivalent, in terms of distribution channels, to those broadcast distribution networks, in which case we may think that it's in the public interest to make sure that if you choose to use Google or you choose to use Facebook that you still have access to a wide range of news sources.

Keyboard shortcuts

j previous speech k next speech