South African publishers to challenge Google and Meta over compensation

Today a group of major South African publishers and media houses, under the industry association Publisher Support Services (PSS), have announced their intent to challenge Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) over compensation for the use of their content on the platforms.

The publishers will be using hearings held by the Competition Commission early next year to deliver their opening gambit in a move we have already seen play out in Australia with mixed results.

“The Competition Commission (Commission) launched its market inquiry into online platforms operating in South Africa in May this year, focusing on online intermediation services. This includes the market dynamics and business practices that apply across the respective platforms operating in the country,” explains PSS in a press release sent to Hypertext.

It is anticipated that submissions will be filed by January 2022, according to PPS, with in-camera hearings planned for February 2022. The inquiry is expected to release its findings and report by October 2022, so this matter will likely take some time to resolve.

“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 us fairly and equitably for our journalistic efforts, hence we are making submissions on their behavior in the local market to the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into online platforms in South Africa,” adds Explains Hoosain Karjieker, CEO of Mail & Guardian Media and chairperson of the PSS.

At the time of writing, no formal reply or comment have been by Google or Meta on the matter, but as we have seen with disputes around publisher compensation in other parts of the globe, both big tech firms can quickly put the squeeze on before media houses buckle. Whether the same plays out here, remains to be seen.

While this initiative is led by founder members of the PSS (Arena Holdings, Caxton, Independent Media, Mail & Guardian and Media24), Karjieker invited other media organisations to participate. They can make enquiries by emailing administrator[at]pdmedia[dot]org[za].



[Image – Photo by Jacques Nel on Unsplash]


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