The investigation is the latest probe amid concerns over the growing influence of internet companies on the media market and political agenda.
Australia’s competition regulator has said it would probe into the influence of US online giants Facebook and Google and other digital platforms on the country’s media market.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to know if internet companies are hurting the interests of consumers, content creators and advertisers.
Like their rivals globally, Australian conventional publishers have been under pressure as the flow of advertising money has turned to digital distributors, such as Google, Facebook, Netflix etc., according to Reuters.
“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
The probe was ordered as part of wider media reforms amid growing fears for the future of journalism and the quality of news and the rise of so-called “fake news,” according to Reuters.
Media reform discussions in parliament earlier this year resulted in the easing of ownership regulations to allow the country’s traditional media companies to increase their market share to better compete with digital platforms.
Sims added that the investigation would also study how Facebook and Google operated to “fully understand their influence in Australia.”
A preliminary report will be prepared by December 2018.
“We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is looking forward to “a thorough inquiry into the Australian media market,” according to CNN.
In the US and the UK, Facebook and Google have come under pressure over their growing role in influencing global and domestic political landscape.
Both companies have faced questions in the US over digital ads allegedly bought by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 presidential election. In Britain, Facebook has been asked to provide information on ads allegedly purchased by Russia-linked accounts during the general election in June and the Brexit referendum last year. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying Russia never meddles in the domestic policy of foreign nations.