Japan FTC Launches Probe on News Royalty Fees

Tokyo (Jiji Press) — Japan’s Fair Trade Commission said Wednesday that it has launched an investigation into royalty fees paid to news organizations for displaying articles on online platforms.

The antitrust watchdog plans to compile during next year a report on whether the fees are set appropriately.

In the probe, the commission will conduct a survey of some 300 news outlets about their business dealings with platform operators that run news sites. It will then conduct hearings with about 10 platform firms, such as Yahoo Japan Corp., Google LLC and Line Corp.

If the watchdog finds cases amounting to an abuse of superior bargaining position under the antimonopoly law, such as unreasonably low article royalty fees, it will urge voluntary improvements.

In response to concerns that platform operators were not disclosing how article royalty fees were calculated, the FTC said last February that it would be desirable for this information to be clarified.

As little improvement has been seen since then, the commission now finds it necessary to conduct an investigation.