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Germany’s Monopolies Commission makes proposals on algorithms and media

Germany’s Monopolies Commission in its latest biennial report says that digital change requires legal adjustments regarding price algorithms and the media sector. “Digitisation is irreversibly advancing in many areas of the economy,” it notes. “Prices are increasingly set on the basis of algorithms. Streaming services and video portals such as Netflix and YouTube are gaining in popularity and are replacing traditional television more and more. The resulting structural change should be shaped for the benefit of consumers, with fair rules for traditional and new suppliers.”

The Monopolies Commission proposes to systematically investigate markets with algorithm-based pricing for adverse effects on competition. For this purpose, sector inquiries should be used more often, which allow identifying undesirable developments in competition. It recommends that markets with a tendency towards coordinated pricing should be systematically monitored. Competition sector inquiries are particularly suitable for this purpose because the companies are obliged to provide the Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) with information. Additionally, consumer associations could be given a right to initiate competition sector inquiries, as they are most likely to receive information about potentially coordinated prices.

It also proposes to further harmonise the regulatory framework for audiovisual media services and to restrict the online services of public service broadcasters to socially and culturally relevant content. “In view of increasingly changing user behaviour, particularly of younger generations, and increasing media convergence, the regulatory framework for traditional television and audiovisual online services, e.g. Netflix and YouTube, should be harmonised. In principle, audiovisual media services should be subject to uniform rules on the protection of minors and consumers, and on the regulation of advertising. In particular, the restrictions on advertising time for traditional television should therefore be removed. The liberalisation and flexibility envisaged at the European level is insufficient in this regard. In view of the numerous private-sector online offerings, publicly financed broadcasters should focus on so-called public value content. Read more

  • Monday, 23 July 2018

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