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An unprecedented coalition of broadcasters and publishers has called on Boris Johnson to urgently tackle the harmful effect technology giants are having on British media.

Leaders from across the industry have come together to stress the ‘vital importance’ of bringing the UK’s tough new digital regulator into law within the next parliamentary session.

The Digital Markets Unit was launched last year to tackle the dominance of the world’s biggest technology firms such as Google and Facebook in a bid to help other players, including news publishers, in digital markets.

Ministers said the watchdog would have the authority to block or reverse alleged anti-competitive behaviour in advertising and investigate algorithms that discriminated against popular news websites.

Boris Johnson has been urged to tackle the harmful effect technology giants are having on British media

Boris Johnson has been urged to tackle the harmful effect technology giants are having on British media

Boris Johnson has been urged to tackle the harmful effect technology giants are having on British media

It is also expected to have powers to make technology giants pay a fair price for the news content they use.

But with legislation still required for the regulator to exercise these powers, there are fears that unless the Government moves swiftly this progress could be delayed by at least another year.

An open letter coordinated by the News Media Association, which represents national and regional publishers in Britain, has urged the Prime Minister to include it in the Queen’s Speech in May.

Among the signatories were the BBC, ITN and Channel 4, plus representatives of commercial news and magazine companies, radio outlets and publishers of books, journals and online content.

It said: ‘By moving quickly and including the legislation in the Queen’s Speech in May, you will not only take the first step toward ensuring a healthy future for independent media, but you will position the UK as a world leader in tackling the imbalance of power between media providers and the tech platforms which threatens to deprive the public of the trusted news and information they require.

‘Any delay to the legislation risks the UK slipping behind other jurisdictions. We welcome the efforts of government to date on this vital issue, but our sectors cannot afford any further delay to this critical legislation.’

The Digital Markets Unit was launched last year to tackle the dominance of the world's biggest technology firms such as Google and Facebook

The Digital Markets Unit was launched last year to tackle the dominance of the world's biggest technology firms such as Google and Facebook

The Digital Markets Unit was launched last year to tackle the dominance of the world’s biggest technology firms such as Google and Facebook

The DMU, which has been established within the Competitions and Markets Authority, was launched in April last year.

Proposals for giving it statutory powers were then put forward, with the consultation ending on October 1. 

The Government has ‘committed to legislating when parliamentary time allows’ – but there has been no announcement since.

The letter said that the Government had played a ‘leading role in identifying the harm caused to many businesses and consumers by the dominance of a small number of large tech platforms’.

It continued: ‘We believe the DMU can tackle the root causes of large platforms’ market power, rebalancing the relationship between platforms and creators of trusted and much-loved content.

‘This will be critical in ensuring the sustainability of the UK’s vibrant media sector, ensuring fair value and treatment for creators of content, and ultimately benefiting audiences.’

Source: Daily Mail

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