In today’s ExchangeWire News Digest: Google threatens to withdraw its search functionality in response to the News Media Bargaining Code from Australia. The ICO is resuming its investigation into RTB and the broader ad tech ecosystem. and NBC Universal announce their plan to close NBCSN by the end of 2021.

Google threatens to take the search out of Australia

Google has threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia in an attempt to escalate the company’s battle against the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) News Media Bargaining Code.

The Alphabet Inc.-owned company has been a passionate opponent of the bill that will force major digital platforms to pay media companies to publish their content since it was first announced last year. The executive director of Google Australia described the code as ‘unenforceable’. Mel Silva announced the expected removal of Search at a hearing last Friday (Jan. 22). She warned, “If this version of the code became law, we would have we have no real choice to no longer make Google search available in Australia ”.

The threat follows a similar threat launched just days earlier by major tech platform Facebook when Australian executive director Will Easton announced that the social media giant will stop investing in the country when the law is passed.

Australian authorities criticized Google’s reaction to the law. Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that lawmakers would not bow down, and lawmakers themselves accused the search giant of “blackmail” and bullying.

With the consensus that Google is trying to quell other countries’ plans to impose a similar law in the bud, the company’s behavior appears instead to bolster Australia’s determination to set that precedent.

The ICO is resuming its investigation in RTB

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced that it will resume its investigation into the real-time bidding (RTB) and ad tech industries. The process that was the backbone of programmatic buying has been carefully studied how it collects and processes consumer data.

The investigation was postponed in May last year after the coronavirus crisis. In a blog post, ICO Deputy Commissioner Simon McDougall stated that “RTB can use people’s sensitive personal data to serve advertisements and requires explicit consent from people,” who are currently not being obtained. McDougall also wrote that there is currently insufficient protection for the data collected through RTB.

The ICO will take up the investigation through a series of audits as well as a closer look at the behavior and role of data brokers in the ad tech landscape, according to McDougall.

The reopening of the investigation reaffirms regulatory pressure on the industry to get their house in order on privacy issues. It remains to be seen how RTB will be shaped by the ICO’s probe.

NBC Universal to lock NBCSN

NBC Universal has announced plans to close its sports channel NBCSN by the end of this year. The move, announced last Friday (January 22nd), will spread some of the sports channel’s key events across the network’s other properties.

In an internal memo, Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, wrote that the network “has decided that the best strategic next step for our sports group and the company as a whole is to completely wind down NBCSN, with key elements of NBCSN programming on USA Network and USA Network will be relocated. in some cases, Peacock for 2022 and beyond. “

Bevacqua praised the decision and said that the move “will make USA Network an exceptionally powerful platform in the media market and give our sports program a significant audience boost”.

NBCSN was acquired as part of Comcast’s purchase of NBC in 2011 and is currently available in 80.6 million US homes. While the network’s Golf and Olympic channels will reportedly not be affected by the shutdown, coverage of NASCAR and National Hockey League events will be moved to USA Network. It is currently unclear whether the network will continue to cover Premier League games after they were previously broadcast on their Peacock streaming service.