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Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism
11/07/2017
Impact of search engines, social media and disinformation on journalism in Australia

SHRIVELL, Ms Denise, Founder, MediaScope

WOOLLEY, Mr Darren, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, TrinityP3

[10:02]

ACTING CHAIR: Welcome. Would either of you like to start by making an opening statement?

Ms Shrivell : I will go first, if I may.

ACTING CHAIR: Okay.

Ms Shrivell : Thank you very much for having us today and seeing some of my colleagues this morning. Thank you for the opportunity to offer my views to this inquiry into the future of public interest journalism. As is commonly known, advertising revenue, which once underpinned the business model of media and journalism, continues to shift from a defined market of traditional TV, radio and print to advertising that is traded programmatically through digital channels dominated by Facebook and Google. Marketers now bypass traditional media to reach audiences who increasingly consume content from a fragmenting and fast-evolving range of local and international online platforms. This is the unstoppable trend.

The revenue that media now attracts through digital advertising is largely based on quantity of audience over quality of audience. To compete and survive in this environment, we have seen newsrooms centralise and deplete, and some parts of media focus more on sensation and division over substance in lockstep with political parties who tailor their message and often their actions to a voracious 24/7 news cycle—all then amplified, usually unchecked and without counter, across a narrow news network and numerous social media bubbles. In short, disruption and lack of trust in both the media and our political landscapes are no coincidence.

Mainstream media is calling for regulatory change to level the playing field in this landscape. In what is already one of the most concentrated media ownership markets in the world, experts forecast further concentration, leading to even more dominance from fewer news sources. It is not clear how increasing the power of local incumbents will make them more competitive against global platforms and ensure the role of the fourth estate. These complex and challenging issues, combined with rises in global uncertainty, have placed a firm focus on the performance and role of public interest journalism as a pillar of our democracy and how a diversity of media voices and true new sources can reach time-poor audiences while being financially supported unencumbered by political interference, commercial conflict and media owner shock jock bias.

Australia, of course, is not alone in trying to find solutions to these challenges, but we are unique. With dominant media owners, a small multicultural population and as one of a handful of countries worldwide to have compulsory voting, our media usage, particularly in regional areas, is inhibited and narrowed by one of the slowest and most unreliable internets in the developed world. Australian voters who are not actively engaged with news and politics are highly vulnerable to fake social media news, bias and agenda-led mainstream media narratives. But public interest and investigative journalism is alive, with much of the heavy lifting now being done by independents. While titles such as Independent Australia, New Matilda, Crikey, The Big Smoke, The Saturday Paper, John Menadue's Pearls and Irritations and journalists such as Lucie Morris-Marr, Michael West and Claire Connelly do not enjoy mainstream reach, their content is promoted, debated and moderated within social media communities such as the very active #auspol on Twitter.

Marketers and advertisers also have a role to play by taking action on brand safety and being more aware of the content they are appearing around and their revenue is supporting. Stop Funding Hate in the UK and Sleeping Giants in the US are successful grassroots initiatives which highlight divisive and inflammatory content. Advertisers are then asked to boycott their presence.

To conclude, the perfect storm is upon us. Australia's media industry requires regulatory reform but only with more comprehensive policy to identify, protect and support public interest and investigative journalism, while mainstream media and global media giants require greater regulation and oversight applied to the revenue they attract and the content they create and distribute to mass audiences. In the long run, this can only build some level of rigour and trust back into big media, engage more interest in journalism and enhance our Australian democracy.

My submission outlines examples, gives hard numbers, maps the media landscapes and offers solutions to many of the points that I have raised. Thank you very much.

Mr Woolley : I am here today because for 17½ years we have been advising major advertisers on how they should go about investing their advertising dollar most effectively. One of the big shifts that we have seen in the past 10 years is the growth, obviously, of the digital aggregators. In fact, in February 2017 Facebook had a reach of 17 million active users, and Google's YouTube had 15 million active users during that month. So the actual reach is very attractive for advertisers.

Senator XENOPHON: Is that Australia?

Mr Woolley : Yes, Australia only. They are unique users in Australia. So this is where the advertising dollars are flowing to. The fact that the content that appears within both of those comes from other parties that have created that content is of concern to advertisers, but it is not part of the commercial decision-making process. However, they are concerned about the quality of the content that goes there because there are big issues around brand safety and their advertising appearing on those platforms against content that may be deleterious to their brands. This is an issue which both Google and Facebook have said that they will address and that they are taking steps on. But they do not take responsibility for the conduct because they do not see themselves as content producers but purely aggregators and distributors.

The Australian media owners, like advertisers, have also provided that content that they prepare to these platforms free of charge. They are now paying the cost. Under the terms that they have done that, they are unable to generate the types of revenue. We saw that last year in Australia, according to the IAB, of $6.8 billion in digital advertising revenue approximately two-thirds went to Google and Facebook. This is advertising revenue from Australian advertisers that is not going to the content producers. The advertising pie does not grow in proportion to the number of channels; it grows on the level of investment seen there. Australia has traditionally had one of the highest costs of advertising of any market in the world. The digital advertising market has actually offered a discount to that because, rather than buying reach, purely, they are buying impressions, and so, with two platforms that are reaching 17 million and 15 million, advertisers are able to buy individuals within that market and impressions with those individuals.

As to the idea of the content being shared for free, it is interesting that it has now become an issue, because it would be interesting if, for instance, the national broadcaster's program Four Corners, which runs for approximately 45 minutes, were streamed on to, say, Foxtel, and they sold advertising in that particular program for their own benefit, because that is effectively what is happening with the digital aggregators: they are taking content from other providers and then commercialising that for their own benefit. If the same thing happened with the national broadcaster's product, I am sure that the public and the government would be outraged. Yet we seem to accept this as just terms of business and part of the market platform.

The next big issue for advertisers, as I have touched on, is brand safety. At the moment, there is a rise in what is called 'fake news', which is leading to the public having question marks over the quality or importance of that news, and so it creates an environment where advertisers do not feel that they are getting the right environment for them to be able to advertise in. This is an issue that needs to be addressed because, while the internet has democratised the opportunity for people to create and disseminate their messages in their news reporting, it has been done with no firm measure of quality or even of truthfulness. So it raises a big question for advertisers which they are unable to address. Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR: Thank you to both of you. Thank you also to MediaScope for your submission. It is almost quite entertaining in itself, with the layout of how you have provided it. I have to, obviously, highlight the issue you have raised about independent media doing some of the heavy lifting these days. From my own personal content, the independent media is probably more my mainstream, but obviously is not still in the mainstream in that way. I guess that goes to the heart of the issue of public interest journalism. These are the players who are doing a lot of that work through various platforms, as we know, most of which are online of course. How do we support those to become more mainstream, if they are the future as far as public interest journalism goes? They do not, themselves, have the majority of advertising at all, if any. Have you thought about the ways in which or the mechanisms by which they can be supported?

Ms Shrivell : You are right: I think that they are showing in the landscape at the moment a lot of analysis and insight and investigation that we perhaps do not see coming out of some of the mainstream media. There are exceptions and glimpses, and I highlight some of those in my submission. For any media owner now, the name of the game is diversification of revenue streams. I think that, in regard to public interest journalism, commercial conflict is very top of mind and I think that the independent media owners struggle because, firstly, they do not have perhaps the reach to audience; they perhaps have a quality audience and an engaged audience but perhaps not a volume of audience. As I mentioned in my opening statement, media is now basically bought on volume rather than quality. So it is challenging for them. A lot of publishers now are doing things like events, and Tim mentioned that his publishing company relies on revenue through events. Again, a commercial conflict may come into play if that is done by an independent media owner who is doing investigative journalism.

It is incredibly challenging for them to monetise what they do and keep providing the quality and quantity of journalism that we require. There are other ways to monetise: subscription, of course—people paying for content. We have already spoken a few times this morning about various tax breaks and tax levies. But you are right that that is a real, absolute challenge for them, and I think that, as part of this process, that should be part of the suite of solutions put forward in any kind of media reform.

ACTING CHAIR: When you say the suite of solutions put forward, you mean like tax discount or offset in relation to subscriptions, for example.

Ms Shrivell : Absolutely. There may also be things that can be done to help give them a better voice. Better access to politicians might be one of them. A better opportunity to gain a gallery pass is an example for some independent media journalists. My understanding is that it's a little difficult at the moment. I could be wrong; I'm not exactly sure of what the process is. But there are things like that that could help them get a little bit more reach for the journalism that they're providing. But I'm quite sure some level of consideration in terms of subscription tax breaks would be very welcome by them.

There are also issues—and I think Michael West brought this up in his testimony—around defamation. Quite often that's an inhibitor of them gaining revenue, so there should be an easier way for them to go through that process.

ACTING CHAIR: Have you thought about who should pay for these kinds of tax breaks? If we're to come up with some kind of mechanism in that way, who's paying for it?

Ms Shrivell : Certainly the very engaged readers or consumers of this kind of journalism could. I think that, if there were a tax incentive to help to monetise that, it would be really welcome. It would be a user-funded type of thing where there was some kind of incentive.

ACTING CHAIR: You have Google and Facebook collecting massive amounts of revenue from advertising—$4 billion to $5 billion a year in Australia. Have you thought about whether they should be helping subsidise some of this diversity in the independent sector that we're talking about?

Ms Shrivell : That certainly seems to be something that's been discussed overseas. Media Watch last night certainly highlighted the Canadian study where that's been discussed. How do they support journalism through the money that they attract? I noted yesterday on Twitter Dave Donovan, who is the editor and owner of Independent Australia, says that, when he puts one of his articles up on Facebook, it costs him $100 to $150 to amplify it to his audience. So there are perhaps some other things along those lines that can be done to help with the distribution of the content that they're creating.

Mr Woolley : The fact is that the online internet model is a freemium model. They offer content free.

ACTING CHAIR: Is that a word?

Mr Woolley : It is amongst the digital media. Freemium is offered free of charge. This is a way of getting the viewers—the audience—into that content. The idea is usually then to upsell into a premium model, so it is free to start with to get you in and then has an opportunity to upsell into subscribing or something similar. The fact of the matter is that Facebook, Google and YouTube have become so successful and so dominant in the marketplace that a very small number of people convert up. As we see in many of the studies, young people in particular would not pay for what they see as public interest journalism or news.

I think that there is a role for Google and Facebook to pay some sort of compensation to the content—except that they were given that content by the media content creators in the first place. Those media content creators gave the content because they wanted to increase their audience. Now they have actually lost out in revenue from that content, turn around and go back to Google and Facebook to say, 'You need to pay us for that content'. It is interesting. Four Corners is a 45-minute program. It makes it ideal for another 15 minutes of advertising. I am sure there'd be any number of advertisers that would be very happy to pay for advertising on Four Corners except that it won't run on the national broadcaster.

Senator XENOPHON: Maybe Trump Tower from their program last week!

Mr Woolley : What I'm saying is that, if that happened in traditional media, there'd be an outcry, and yet that is exactly what's happening with Google and Facebook. They are taking this content into their walled garden, where they commercialise it free of charge and they do not share. In fact, they're charging advertisers to appear in there and they're keeping that money. It's interesting that the market forces created a model that works very well for two major players but ultimately works against the interest of the public in having a diverse set of voices. They will argue that they allow a diverse set of voices because anyone can have their content distributed there.

ACTING CHAIR: Very interesting. Senator Paterson.

Senator PATERSON: Mr Woolley, why do your clients choose to advertise on these new platforms? Why do they advertise now on Facebook or through Google instead of just buying a TV ad or putting an ad in a newspaper?

Mr Woolley : One of the big issues has been that, traditionally, compared to the global market, Australian traditional media such as TV, press and radio have been expensive in a cost-per-thousand measure. The reason that was traditionally given by the media owners and the media industry was that Australia is a very large geographic space with a relatively small population. To do things like distribute television signals, magazines, newspapers and the like was costly. Digital has come in at a much lower cost per thousand, effectively, and has an incredible reach. While there are millions of websites available for advertisers to advertise on, it becomes problematic to work out which ones, whereas when it is consolidated with such huge reach of 17 million or 15 million Australians where you can go to two platforms and basically cherry-pick your audience out of there at a relatively low cost per thousand, it just makes commercial sense.

Senator PATERSON: So in that way it is a positive for your clients and people who want to reach an audience. They have a lower-cost way of reaching their audience than they did before because of this competition.

Mr Woolley : Yes from a purely financial basis, but now there are questions being asked about some of the metrics that both Google and Facebook provide. For instance, if I buy a 30-second television ad on any of the networks, it will run for 30 seconds. On Google and Facebook, if it runs for five seconds, it's deemed to be seen, and so now there are questions around the value that these represent with the metrics that are actually developed by the digital industry itself.

Senator XENOPHON: Are you saying that their metrics aren't as robust as they say they are? When they sell iPods or whatever, are you saying there is a need for greater transparency in terms of what they're selling or a greater robustness around what they're selling?

Mr Woolley : There are two issues. The first is that the metrics themselves have been corrected several times over the past few years by Facebook and Google themselves because they found out that their 'algorithm' has been incorrect and perhaps overstating performance. The second is that getting a consistent and meaningful measure across the industry has also been difficult to achieve. While Google and Facebook, because of their size and market dominance, have actually put forward metrics, it's still the advertisers who are coming to terms with what that means as far as the value that that represents as part of their advertising investment.

Senator PATERSON: I want to go back to why advertisers choose to use these services over the alternative. The other advantage you have alluded to is that they can better target and reach their audience in a more accurate way. When I am sitting watching television, there are so many ads broadcast that are totally irrelevant to me that someone has paid money to reach me. That is not a very effective use of their money. It also happens online, but much less often. Is that another reason why they do that?

Mr Woolley : There is that. And another issue in regard to digital media is viewability in that the TV ad will run and whether the people are, first of all, in the room watching it, or are the right audience you are trying to target, the data available to you is reasonably robust to allow you to make that decision. There is an estimate that around half of all digital ads are not seen by anyone, and yet they are recorded as being seen. So there is around 50 per cent wastage in viewability. As an advertiser, you would then need to apply that to what your other media options would suggest, as far as your wastage goes. One of the clear things is to minimise wastage. Yes, you are able to target specific individual types—not individuals—through both Google and Facebook. But then there are questions around the actual measuring of the performance of that.

Senator PATERSON: I guess another advantage is that there are lower barriers to entry in digital advertising. If I am a small business and I want to run an advertisement, I am not going to be able to afford to get someone to record a television advertisement for me and then broadcast it. That could be quite expensive. I probably cannot afford an ad in a newspaper. But I can certainly afford five bucks to boost my Facebook post or whatever. It is a much lower entry point, isn't it?

Mr Woolley : And Think TV would suggest that you would get equivalent value for your dollar. Five dollars on Facebook would buy you the equivalent value of $5 on free-to-air television—if you could actually access it.

Senator PATERSON: Exactly. That is my point: I cannot buy $5 worth of television advertising but I can buy five dollars worth of Facebook advertising. So if I am a small business that wants to promote what I do, it is a much better option for me, isn't it?

Mr Woolley : Yes, of course. And there are many small businesses in Australia that are making a contribution to that $6.8 billion in digital advertising. But there are also significant large advertisers who are moving a significant portion of their media budget into this space—in some cases up to 50 per cent—purely looking for the lower cost per thousand. That is because there is no cost of creating the media in the first place.

Senator PATERSON: If we were to put a tax on Google or Facebook as a way of ensuring this advertising revenue which used to go through traditional media companies comes back to traditional companies in some way, it is not Google and Facebook that will be paying that tax, it is those advertisers.

Mr Woolley : That is correct.

Senator PATERSON: So do media companies have a right to that revenue in perpetuity? Your clients previously were vicariously funding media companies—because the purpose was not to fund media companies; their purpose was to reach their audience. Is it fair to put a tax on those clients to fund journalism? Are they the best people to bear the load of that?

Mr Woolley : Advertisers in the industry would not be happy with any additional tax on advertising beyond their current taxation regime.

Senator PATERSON: In your view, would it be reasonable to tax them for this?

Mr Woolley : To tax Google and Facebook?

Senator PATERSON: We could say we are taxing Google and Facebook, but we know who would end up picking up the tab. Is it fair that they would pay to fund journalism? Are they the right people in society to bear the burden of funding journalism?

Mr Woolley : Ultimately the cost would be passed onto the consumer, because it would be an impost on the companies themselves.

ACTING CHAIR: But these are companies making massive profits. We are talking about Google and Facebook.

Mr Woolley : The senator's point was that that would then flow on to the cost of advertising for the advertisers themselves. In some cases, that additional cost to the advertisers could be to small businesses such as my own business, if I advertise on Google or Facebook, or very large businesses, many of whom are already struggling to deliver profits. Google and Facebook are certainly making significant profits.

Senator PATERSON: Given the market power that Facebook and Google have, it is pretty reasonable to assume that any tax that was put onto them they would ultimately be able to pass onto the clients—

Mr Woolley : They would pass it on.

Senator PATERSON: They would not pay it out of the goodwill of their hearts if they could pass it onto the clients.

Mr Woolley : That's right. So if I can clarify: would it be fair to put it onto Google and Facebook on the basis that they are making billions of dollars in profit? Yes, except the consequence would be an impost on all advertisers in Australia if you did that, because it would be passed onto them.

ACTING CHAIR: You may say that, but that may or may not be the case. It depends what kind of mechanism or framework would be put in place, I suppose.

Senator XENOPHON: Mr Woolley, will it inevitably be passed on because of their monopoly power? It is almost a monopsony situation that they have got.

Mr Woolley : I think it would be very similar to the recent tax on banks in that, if you place a tax on any individual group, they would be looking to find ways of passing that on.

Senator XENOPHON: Far be it from me to be defending the government in supporting the tax—Senator Paterson is getting nervous about me defending the government! In that case it was a distinction because the smaller regional banks, depending on the level of their deposits, were exempt from it. One of the arguments was that there was an alternative, so it would actually help level the playing field post GFC and the bank guarantees that greatly favoured the big banks. So there is an alternative in the sense that one of the competitive pressures on the big banks not to pass that tax onto the customers is that people could actually switch to the small regional banks with their quite extensive regional networks. But there is no real alternative to Google and Facebook, is there?

Mr Woolley : No, there are no alternatives. There are very small alternatives. To pick up on Senator Paterson's point, there are very few alternatives for small business beyond digital media.

Senator XENOPHON: We have discussed the issue of tax breaks. There is an issue of looking at the market power of Google and Facebook, just as we have an access regime in our competition law about having access to poles and wires, telecommunications and railroad infrastructure. I think it is the old part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act—Senator Paterson might correct me if I have the wrong part. If you could change the law so that the data analytics Google and Facebook have, which is at the core of their commercial advantage, could be accessed by others—in other words, if that were opened up—would that make a difference in terms of making it less likely that any additional tax on Facebook and Google would be passed onto consumers? Is that an alternative—that data analytics could be opened up to small businesses, to competitors, to be able to use it on the basis of a fair access regime?

Mr Woolley : Opening the analytics within what the industry calls walled gardens, would certainly provide greater insight for advertisers and their agencies to make decisions. I am not sure how that would work in regard to evening out the distribution of revenues through there. But certainly it would be advantageous to understand the workings within Google and Facebook. I am sure they would have concerns around commercial confidentiality. But one of the big challenges for advertisers is: how do you make an informed decision about where your advertising is to be invested?

Senator XENOPHON: You have said that, over the years, Google and Facebook have changed their metrics. There is almost a competition argument. I do not want to single them out on this but there is a compelling argument that if they have been promising one thing and delivering another—and they can say it was because the algorithm was wrong or that metrics were not quite right—consumers should either get a refund or be treated differently. We have recently seen the European case involving a multibillion-dollar fine against Google. That is about the way they have used their market power. Is it a case of our competition laws really not keeping up-to-date with the power of Google and Facebook in this emerging market?

Mr Woolley : In the case in Europe, there were breach of privacy issues using their Gmail data. The competition laws, like most legislation, are lagging behind the marketplace because we have had a fundamental massive change in the media landscape because of digital media. And so to look at the dominance of those two platforms in this marketplace would I think be an advantage to everyone.

Senator XENOPHON: You have mentioned the $6.8 billion in digital ad revenue. The figure I have been bandying about is that Google and Facebook are taking $3.2 billion of that. That figure is clearly wrong?

Mr Woolley : That figure of $6.8 billion from the IAB was for 2016, and the estimate was 65 per cent of that. So that would give you about $3.8 billion.

Senator XENOPHON: I said $3.2 billion. I was $600 million out. I stand corrected.

Ms Shrivell : Jane Schulze, who will appear in your next session, will be able to give you the exact number.

Senator XENOPHON: All right, I will put that on notice to Miss Schulze—I just want that down to the last hundred dollars!

Ms Shrivell : She may be able to do that!

ACTING CHAIR: There are clearly big challenges for the future of Australian journalism. It does get down to the role of policymakers in addressing some of those challenges. Do you have any ideas or mechanisms to address some of those challenges? Obviously we know what the government has put forward with its media reforms to date. You are in this space.

Ms Shrivell : The solutions!

ACTING CHAIR: Yes, the solutions!

Ms Shrivell : I wish I could be that straightforward. It is a really complex, challenging environment. I think there are some hints in some previous inquiries—from Finkelstein to Leveson. We are seeing overseas markets trying to address these challenges. I think there are hints out of all these inquiries we have had in the past and in overseas markets. Defamation laws, tax breaks, tax levies—they seem to be the things that are constantly mentioned at the moment. I thought Megan Brownlow, from PwC, made a very good point this morning about modelling some of the solutions that are being put forward. To my mind, out of the suite of media reforms that are currently in place, there has not been a lot of modelling or discussion about what happens next. Tim Burrowes gave some really good hints about what we can expect to happen in the short term based on the repeal of the 'two out of three' rule. There are issues that have come up quite recently around things like plagiarism. That is another issue facing journalists today. So there are a raft of issues to address. My concern with the current legislation is that none of that is being addressed.

ACTING CHAIR: None of it is being addressed?

Ms Shrivell : None of the concerns about the importance of public interest journalism are being addressed as part of the current reforms within the media ownership package.

ACTING CHAIR: One of the components of the media ownership package is the abolition of the 'two out of three' rule.

Ms Shrivell : Yes, that seems to be the big one.

ACTING CHAIR: Obviously the real risk with that is the loss of diverse city that we currently do still have on the ground. I come from a small state where regional voices are really important. That is obviously a real concern. Is that a concern that you have in relation to what we define as public interest journalism, which is obviously up for debate as well? That can be those important stories on the ground. I think we had some examples this morning, including a planning application in a local community. If those kinds of stories are not getting reported, told and shared in regional outlets because it is all being consolidated, where does that leave us as far as public interest journalism goes?

Ms Shrivell : And there has been very little evidence or discussion that I have seen about how those kinds of issues will be addressed if the 'two out of three' rule is repealed. To my mind, as we have said, the perfect storm is upon us. This is the opportunity to really address some of those issues. I think you raised a very good point about defining exactly what is public interest journalism. Senator Dastyari often brings up his example of the 'dog blog'; he looks at lifestyle journalism and asks whether that is public interest journalism. For this debate, I suppose we are really focusing on fourth estate style journalism, which really is a pillar of our democracy. I think there are real concerns. Tim Burrowes said this morning that he thinks the death knell has already been rung for grassroots, local council, very localised journalism. In the last week or so, there have been some interesting reports coming out of the UK about some support for artificial intelligence produced journalism addressing local government journalism. So there are solutions being spoken about.

Senator XENOPHON: Seriously, how can you do AI produced journalism if it involves some dodgy dealings in the council? All it does is look at planning applications; it does not give you the story behind it. It needs to have a person on the ground asking questions and digging deep, doesn't it?

Ms Shrivell : I think part of the challenge is that there are a lot of solutions being suggested—whether right or wrong—but at the moment there is not a framework in place where different solutions can be trialled and disregarded if they are not working or brought into the suite of journalism solutions that we have. Remember also that Darren and I and the people you are seeing this morning work in a very fast-changing environment. We are talking about Google and Facebook now, but businesses like Amazon are very much on our horizon.

Senator XENOPHON: How do you see the challenge from Amazon in the context of this inquiry—apart from the fact that Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post?

Ms Shrivell : There is a feeling that they may come in and be another addition to what is already a duopoly and make some inroads into a landscape that is already under a lot of pressure.

Mr Woolley : We are dealing with a category and industry that usually does not encourage government involvement. In fact, they are very big on self-regulation. The Press Council and other bodies within the advertising industry very much want to look after their own backyard. Senator Paterson, your observation about the alignment of the media owners shows that it has got to the point where they cannot address this issue themselves, and so they are looking for some type of government intervention. Overnight, there was news from the US that the major media players are approaching the US government to give them exemptions on the antitrust legislation to be able to negotiate collectively their own deals with the duopoly of Google and Facebook. That is interesting. It is certainly something that could be considered here. When you have got the major players, in return for that, you should also ensure that public interest journalism is protected—as you would do with a licence for a broadcaster to ensure they also meet the obligations for community standards and expectations.

Another area may be that there is a huge discrepancy in the way metrics are delivered from traditional media compared to digital media. I am not sure what the government role in that would be, but we should certainly get some alignment so that there is an equitable and equal playing field between the two. They are competing for the same category of advertising dollar, and yet they are playing on separate rules. There is one set of rules for traditional media, which has been developed and evolve over decades. The other set of rules has basically been made up by two or three of the major players and forced upon the industry. That is another area. Ultimately, there is also a responsibility to sit with the media owners themselves, because there are examples everywhere of media owners and proprietors who are being very successful in withdrawing from both Facebook and Google and continuing to get growth outside of those platforms. So it is not just completely about changing the landscape, because the landscape exists.

Senator XENOPHON: How successful have they been in withdrawing from Google and Facebook? It seems that there is a dependency upon media organisations. If they do withdraw from Facebook and Google, that imposes some significant challenges to get the same number of eyeballs and clicks on their website, does it not?

Mr Woolley : What they are doing is still using the platform but not giving away the content. They put teasers out there and then people have to go outside of the walled garden to access it.

ACTING CHAIR: Thank you for the education on terms like 'freemiums' and 'walled gardens'!

Ms Shrivell : There is a trend also for marketers to reach their audiences directly—perhaps in the same way that some politicians are reaching their audiences directly—so they do not need the middleman. As an industry, that is another challenge that we face: marketers do not need that middleman of media now.

ACTING CHAIR: Thank you for appearing before the committee today.