New Zealand may soon also require tech giants to pay for news

2 Jul 2024

Image: © Maurizio De Mattei/Stock.adobe.com

This comes just days after Meta said it was considering blocking news content from Facebook if Australia enforces its law requiring the platform to pay licensing fees.

New Zealand is set to proceed with a bill that in its current form will make it compulsory for Big Tech companies such as Meta and Google to pay news publishers for their content.

Known as the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, the legislation aligns with a similar law that took effect in Australia three years ago. The law requiring large tech platforms to pay licensing fees for news content was met with consternation from the likes of Facebook, which blocked content from Australian news media from appearing on its platform.

Now, the government of New Zealand wants to introduce its own version of this law in the country’s parliament, Reuters reports, to “enable fair bargaining between New Zealand news media entities and operators of digital platforms to support commercial arrangements for news content”.

The objective is to establish what the bill describes as “equitable treatment” for all news media – from rural, regional and Māori outlets to public news media entities – by creating a “good-faith bargaining environment” and providing a way for news media organisations to be “viable” in a digital marketplace.

“There has been a shift in the way that people consume news and media content. News media is now accessed via online digital platforms. The shift has undermined the viability of traditional media business models,” the bill reads.

“Online digital platforms aggregate and display news content to attract attention to their sites, and make money through advertising and other services, but do not effectively share that monetisation with the people who create the news content. Attempts by news media entities to bargain for the value of their news content are often unsuccessful.”

‘Some intervention necessary’

According to the bill, the government of New Zealand should not continue funding news media directly because it increases risks of “eroding public trust” in the media.

“However, some intervention is necessary to create an even playing field for the industry and support the ongoing production of New Zealand news content. High-quality news content supports democracy, counters misinformation and enhances social cohesion and ultimately the wellbeing of New Zealanders by providing trustworthy information.”

By creating commercial deals with the likes of Meta and Google, news entities in the country will be able to access a “critical revenue stream” and cease to be reliant on government funding in the future.

“Government funding is not required if news media entities are empowered to bargain for the value of their news content. Accordingly, commercial bargaining will better maintain trusted, independent news media, as well as ensuring the financial sustainability of the industry in a digital environment.”

Meanwhile in Australia

This comes just days after Meta said it was considering blocking news content from Facebook if Australia enforces its law requiring the platform to pay licensing fees.

Meta said in March that it will not enter new commercial deals for traditional news content in Australia and the US as it continues to invest in products and services that “drive user engagement”.

“There’s a large number of channels that people can get news content from,” Meta regional policy director Mia Garlick said in a parliamentary hearing last week. “Every other law – tax laws, safety laws, privacy laws – we work to comply with. It’s just compliance would look slightly different in relation to this law if it’s fully enacted.”

Last summer, Meta said it was planning to end access to news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada after the country’s Online News Act was passed.

As of December, Canada said it will keep pushing Meta and other Big Tech companies to pay Canadian news publishers for their content. Google, meanwhile, agreed to pay millions for news in Canada.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

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