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Facebook, Google Press UK To Bar Paul Dacre As Media Chief

Lobbyists from Facebook and Google are petitioning U.K. officials in an effort to block the possible appointment of Paul Dacre as chairman of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), Bloomberg reported on Tuesday (May 25), citing sources. 

One of the final four candidates proposed to lead the region’s media watchdog, Dacre was the editor of the conservative-leaning Daily Mail from 1992 to 2018 and is seen as a possible threat to Big Tech platforms. He has accused U.S. tech platforms of anti-competitive behavior and compared them to the “oil barons of the last century,” per Bloomberg.

Instead of Dacre, tech firms are hoping to sway the government to appoint former Tory party Parliament member Ed Vaizey, sources told Bloomberg. The preferred candidate will be chosen by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and must then be approved by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Aside from regulating telecoms, TV, radio and postal industries, the Ofcom chief also oversees the region’s wireless and satellite airwaves and broadcasting standards. The internet is also being added to the agency’s responsibilities, along with the ability to issue fines against companies posting illegal content or engaging in anti-competitive practices. The new Ofcom chair will also have input regarding the future of the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC), which is funded by a mandatory licensing fee. Dacre has been a vocal critic of the BBC. 

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in March that it is launching a probe into Facebook regarding its handling of user information, similar to the investigations into Google and Apple. Brussels is looking into how Facebook manages its marketplace.

The CMA in February warned Big Tech companies that in the next 12 months, the authority will come down hard on monopolies in the aftermath of Brexit. Britain’s independence from European Union regulations is anticipated to give the CMA more influence.

Companies and industry groups from the U.S. and U.K., as well as 21 European Union (EU) countries, asked antitrust regulators last November to quickly investigate Google regarding anti-competitive activities.

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