Digital platforms’ revenue generation falls under the spotlight

The first round of public hearings into an investigation on how digital platforms generate revenue through advertising and content will commence in March in Pretoria.

The hearings will be held by the Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry (MDPMI) from March 4 to March 22 at the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition campus in Sunnyside, Pretoria.

The MDPMI is investigating the distribution of media content on South Africa’s digital platforms and the advertising technology markets that link buyers and sellers of digital advertising inventory, according to Competition Commission spokesperson Siyabulela Makunga.

The investigation was launched in accordance with Section 43B(1)(a) of the Competition Act No. 89 of 1998 (as amended). The commission launched the inquiry in October.

“During this initial phase, the MDPMI plans to conduct two rounds of information-gathering, with public hearings scheduled for March 2024,” said the commission at the time.

According to Makunga, James Hodge, the commission’s acting deputy commissioner and chief economist, will lead the MDPMI hearings. Veteran media practitioner Paula Fray will also be a panellist.

He said the first round of hearings will take place as a hybrid event, allowing participants to attend either in person or virtually.

Platform for direct engagement

“The proceedings will be broadcast on the Competition Commission SA YouTube channel and live-streamed on Facebook,” he said.

“The final schedule will be released on February 23 pending confirmation of attendance from all participants and confirmation of their allocated hearing slots.

“The primary objective of the public hearings is to provide a platform for direct engagement between the inquiry panel, technical team, and stakeholders.

“To date, the MDPMI has gathered extensive information from a wide range of industry stakeholders through submissions made to the statement of issues [SOI], further statement of issues [FSOI], and requests for information [RFI].”

He explained further: “The public hearings will present another opportunity for stakeholders to not only provide their perspective on some of the issues raised in the SOI, FSOI, and aspects of the RFIs, but to also provide their views on submissions made by other stakeholders in response to the inquiry.

“Stakeholders will also be provided with the opportunity to highlight any issues not currently known to the inquiry, as long as these concerns fall within the defined scope.

“The hearings will enable the inquiry panel and technical team to engage directly with stakeholders in respect of their submissions around how these platform markets operate, the issues identified by the inquiry to date, and any remedial actions stakeholders consider are necessary to address any issues identified in the SOI and FSOI.”

Active participation anticipated

Makunga said the established inquiry is looking forward to the start of the public hearings.

“The inquiry eagerly anticipates active participation from stakeholders in the media and digital platforms space, ensuring a robust and inclusive dialogue that will contribute to the success of this important process,” said Makunga.

All the stakeholders that wish to participate in the public hearings must submit a request using the inquiry hearing form on the commission’s website and send it to the inquiry e-mail address, by 5pm on February 9.

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