Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist


X only global platform refusing to participate in media platforms inquiry

The purpose of the inquiry is to determine if there are market features that adversely affect competition.


X Corp, formerly Twitter, is the only global platform that is refusing to participate in the public hearings of Competition Commission’s media and digital platforms market inquiry that started with public hearings today to examine the distribution of media content on search and social media digital platforms.

The inquiry also includes AI chatbots and assisted search, as well as the advertising technology (AdTech) markets that connect advertisers and news publishers’ websites.

The purpose of the inquiry is also to determine if any market features undermine the purposes of the Competition Act and to comprehensively remedy features that impacts competition or undermine the purposes of the Act, James Hodge, chair of the inquiry and chief economist and acting deputy commissioner of the commission, said in his opening statement. He was joined by panel member and media industry veteran Paula Fray.

“The panel welcomes the participation of a broad range of South Africa’s mainstream media, community media and vernacular media, as well as radio and television broadcasters including the public broadcaster and community broadcasters and some of the largest global search and social media platforms who are also at the forefront of AI, AdTech companies, ad brokers, media associations, think tanks and academics.”

ALSO READ: Competition Commission: terms of reference for media and digital platforms inquiry

Unacceptable that X is not participating – chair

Hodge says the panel does not find it acceptable that X Corp, represented by ENS, is refusing to participate, as it denies the inquiry the ability to discuss and debate the submissions made by X Corp, while it also denies the South African public and media transparency and accountability.

“We also find it somewhat ironic that X has taken this position given its own value proposition to users being ‘a real-time, global, open, public conversation platform where people can see every side of a topic, discover news, share their perspectives, and engage in discussion and debate’.”

The panel would like to hear from the public and media on whether they think X Corp should participate and the questions they have for them of relevance to the inquiry scope, Hodge says.

The inquiry was launched in October and Hodge says it already gathered extensive information from a wide range of industry stakeholders using submissions made to the Statement of Issues, Further Statement of Issues and Requests for Information.

“The public hearings will present another opportunity for stakeholders to not only provide their perspectives on some of the issues identified by the inquiry to date but also for the panel to discuss and debate with stakeholders their perspectives and their business models.”

ALSO READ: Fake news now included in Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry

Public hearings are important

Public hearings play an important role in ensuring transparency and accountability before the public, not only of the inquiry but also of the stakeholders involved, Hodge says.

The public hearings opened with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), the Press Council of South Africa, the Association of Independent Publishers (AIP) and the Forum of Community Journalists (FCJ), followed by the International Fund for Public Interest Media.

On Tuesday it will be the turn of Media24, followed by MoneyWeb, the Washington-based Centre for Journalism and Liberty and the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank in the afternoon. The full schedule for this week is available on the Inquiry’s website and social media. 

Hodge says the panel is supported by a highly experienced technical team, led by Noluthando Jokazi and Donnavan Linley. The team members are Phathutshedzo Manenzhe, Aphiwe Nanto, Lumkisa Jordan, Sivuyse Mtiki, Kuhle Majola, Songezo Mabece and Chandré Prince and they are supported by cadets Nonelelo Vuba and Bandile Bhekiswayo.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits