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Competition watchdog says Google and Facebook are too dominant in UK online advertising

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 23/02/2021 Louise Moon
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The UK's competition watchdog wants to bring in regulatory changes to deal with Google and Facebook's "duopoly" in Britain's online advertising market.

The two US tech giants hold too large of a share in the UK's £14bn digital advertising market - a combined 80pc - which is "not an ideal situation", Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), told the BBC.

Facebook, meanwhile, accounts for more than half of the £5.5bn display advertising market in the UK, while Google holds about a 90pc share in its £7.3bn search advertising market, which Mr Coscelli described as a "problem".

"When companies have too much economic power, that creates a number of distortions, first for competitors, secondly for consumers, and at some level potentially in terms of the political process as well, in some cases," he said.

"We, in general terms, like to see markets more competitive, with more players, with more diversity of players, because we think that delivers better outcomes."

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Their market dominance must be dealt with through regulatory changes so others can hold a bigger share, argued Mr Coscelli, doubling down on his firm stance towards internet giants

"Our current proposal is not to break them up, it's to have pro-competitive regulation to deal with some of the issues, but it would allow the companies to maintain all the current activities that they have," he said.

It comes as the CMA gears up to begin a string of inquiries into Big Tech firms over the coming months amid backlash over their dominance. Mr Coscelli has earlier said the body was "actively scanning" the players, complaints and what others are doing.

The watchdog is also establishing an internal "digital markets unit" in April, which is expected to be handed sweeping new powers to curb tech giants including Facebook, Amazon and Google, after its focus on the technology sector has ramped up in recent years.

Facebook and Google have been contacted for comment.

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