New Zealand wants Australia-style media deals with tech companies

The front pages of Australian newspapers featuring stories on Facebook run on February 19. (AP pic)

Wellington: New Zealand called on Google and Facebook on Wednesday to strike deals with the Kiwi media similar to those reached in Australia, which require tech giants to pay to use the news.

Broadcasting Minister Chris Favoy said he was studying the rules that apply the same kind of arrangements to the struggling New Zealand media sector, but he hoped the deals could be reached through negotiations.

“I met with Google and Facebook last week,” he told a parliamentary committee.

“I am confident that ongoing business discussions between traditional media and digital platforms will also start here in New Zealand and I encourage that.”

Australia last week passed legislation requiring Big Tech to pay for news produced by local media companies, which have long complained that digital giants are consuming their ad revenue while also using their content.

Facebook and Google have successfully relaxed some of the provisions of the new law, which means deals are more likely to arise from negotiations than are imposed by regulators.

This followed a bitter spat that included Facebook’s attempt to flex its muscles by briefly blocking Australian news from the platform.

Faouy said the progress of the talks in New Zealand would determine how the government would formulate its regulations on the issue.

He said, “They will be severely affected by the nature of the procedures and discussions between media platforms and companies.”

He said the New Zealand media was facing a financial crisis at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic meant their work was becoming increasingly important.

“The role of the media through the pandemic has been fundamental to New Zealand’s successful response,” he said.

“As a minister, I am committed to supporting the sector … and bringing about the change required to make it stronger and sustainable in the future.”

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