Schibsted, publishers look to EU tech rules to resolve Apple antitrust concerns

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Norwegian media group Schibsted and the European Publishers Council have urged EU antitrust regulators to ensure that tech rules coming into play this year will rein in Apple's powers, especially over its App Store.

The comments from Schibsted, the largest media group in the Scandinavia region, and the publishers' lobbying group come as the European Commission's Digital Markets Act (DMA) takes effect in May, targeting Big Tech.

Apple is already in the EU antitrust crosshairs related to its App Store practices in music streaming, in e-books and competing apps as well as its mobile payment system Apple Pay.

Apple's App Store practices affect Schibsted because of its market power in Scandinavia where up to 60% of consumers have an iPhone in Norway and Sweden, said Petra Wikstrom, director of Public Policy at Schibsted.

"Apple's App Store policies, such as imposing high fees, taking control of the entire customer relationship, and withholding important user information under the guise of privacy and security, hamper our transition to a subscription-based business model," she told Reuters in an interview.

"Therefore, to put an end to such abusive practices in the digital space and induce positive behavioural change, it is crucial that the DMA is effectively implemented and enforced," Wikstrom said.

The EPC, whose members include chairmen and chief executives of Axel Springer, News UK, Conde Nast, the New York Times and The Guardian, echoed similar concerns.

"Yes, the EPC has the same position and concerns which we have raised directly with the commission too. The DMA is very clear in its obligations and we expect them to be enforced," EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade told Reuters.

The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Apple, which would be forced to loosen its App Store rules under the DMA, could not be reached for comment.

The company has previously said that 85% of developers on the App Store do not pay any commission and only apps with more than $1 million in annual revenue pay 30%.

In 2021, to allay Japanese antitrust concerns, it scraped the ban on providing separate links on App Store apps for reader apps which provide content such as e-books, video and music.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Porter)

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