The purpose of this paper is to examine recent developments in European policy debates concerned with whether governments should intervene in the digital intermediary marketplace to protect the public’s interest.
The paper discusses the public’s interest in the evolution of the digital intermediary marketplace, considers the economics and policy literature on the case for policy intervention in the market dynamics of digital platforms and examines the extent to which policy makers in Europe are catching up with changes in the market for digital platform services.
It is argued that policy-makers need to broaden the evidence base upon which they consider whether policy intervention is needed beyond economic analysis. This is essential to ensure that the European digital intermediary marketplace develops in line with economic, social and cultural goals.
The case is made for measures to ensure continuous and integrated monitoring of developments in the digital marketplace based on economic indicators and evidence on the diversity of media content.
Suggestions are made about the need for innovations in the way policy makers develop the required evidence base for their decisions.
The paper draws attention to the need for proactive policy making based on a consideration of economic, social and cultural goals to ensure that digital intermediaries are held accountable.
The paper provides a multidisciplinary perspective on the dynamics of the digital intermediary ecology and assesses the extent to which the European digital market strategy provides an integrated initiative that is likely to be implemented.
A shorter version of this paper was presented as a keynote speech at the European Communications Policy Research Conference, Brussels, 23-24 March 2015 and a different version is published in Intermedia, 43(1): 20-24, 2015. The author received no external research funding.
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