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New government watchdog aimed at getting ‘fair deal’ for press launches

Oliver DowdenMinisters have officially launched a new regime aimed at getting a “fair deal” for news publishers from tech giants like Google and Facebook.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s new Digital Markets Unit has officially launched today with a mission to examine a new statutory code of conduct, which could be used to ensure online platforms are not applying unfair terms, conditions or policies to news publishers.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has asked the Unit, which was unveiled in November, to work with the communications regulator Ofcom to look at how a code would govern the relationships between platforms and publishers.

DCMS says a new code would would “pave the way for the future rules of the road” when it comes to the relationship between platforms and content providers and therefore help to “boost the sustainability of the press”.

The Unit has initially launched in ‘shadow’ non-statutory form ahead of legislation granting its full powers.

Mr Dowden, pictured, said: “Today is a major milestone in the path to creating the world’s most competitive online markets, with consumers, entrepreneurs and content publishers at their heart.

“The Digital Markets Unit has launched and I’ve asked it to begin by looking at the relationships between platforms and content providers, and platforms and digital advertisers.

“This will pave the way for the development of new digital services and lower prices, give consumers more choice and control over their data, and support our news industry, which is vital to freedom of expression and our democratic values.”