Culture secretary backs call for online ad market study

Jeremy Wright also supports new code of conduct between online platforms and publishers.

Wright: opening speaker at PPA Festival
Wright: opening speaker at PPA Festival

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright is "keen to make progress" on meeting two key recommendations made by February’s Cairncross Review, he told the PPA Festival this morning.

Two key conclusions from Dame Francis Cairncross’s review were that the Competition & Markets Authority should investigate the online ad market and that a new code of conduct should be set up to address the commercial relationship between publishers and online platforms.

Wright, who spoke for 10 minutes, said he agreed with the need for a CMA study to "examine whether the online marketplace is operating effectively and whether it enables or prevents fair competition". 

He said: "Online advertising now represents a growing part of the economy and forms an important revenue stream for many publishers, but this burgeoning market is largely opaque and extremely complex. Therefore it's currently impossible to know whether the revenue shares received by publishers are fair and recognise the considerable work that goes into making high quality content."

Wright added that his department was still working on its full response to the review, but he saw the creation of a code of conduct as a way to "level the playing field" between platforms and publishers.

"[The Cairncross review] also proposed establishing a new code of conduct to rebalance the commercial relationship between publishers and online platforms. That recommendation was echoed in the subsequent review of Jason Furman [the chair of the Digital Competition Expert Panel], which called for a digital platform code of conduct.

"I'm very keen to ensure that we make progress in these areas and I've asked my officials to look in depth at this issue, working closely with publishers and platforms. Success here will hopefully go some way to levelling the playing field."

Wright, who was the opening speaker at the day-long event at London’s Tobacco Dock, also joked that Private Eye’s sales were doing well because "we in Westminster are giving them plenty of material".

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