New Zealand adopts law on rewards for media content – 02/07/2024 at 04:32

New Zealand adopts law on rewards for media content – 02/07/2024 at 04:32

((Automatic translation from Reuters, please see disclaimer

(Added Meta response to paragraphs 6 and 7, and quote from opposition party to paragraph 13)

New Zealand's conservative coalition government said Tuesday it will introduce a bill that would force digital platforms to pay media companies for news.

The bill comes as New Zealand media companies compete with technology companies for advertising dollars, forcing them to find new ways to deliver news programming.

Communications Minister Paul Goldsmith said the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, introduced by the previous Labor government last year, would be introduced to parliament with amendments aimed at helping “our local media businesses earn money for the news they produce”.

Goldsmith said the proposed changes would bring it more into line with Australia's Digital Transactions Act.

The law, which came into effect in Australia in March 2021, gives the government the power to force internet companies, such as Facebook Inc's Meta Platforms META.O and Alphabet Inc's Google GOOGL.O, to negotiate content provision agreements with media outlets if the two parties cannot agree on payments.

Meta said the New Zealand bill ignores the realities of how its platforms work, their voluntary nature, user preferences and the free value they provide to news outlets.

“We will continue to be open and transparent with the government and publishers about our business decisions as this bill moves forward,” a Meta spokesperson said in an email.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After a similar law was passed in Canada in 2023, Meta banned news content from being displayed on Facebook. Meta has also said it plans to stop paying Australian media companies for news, and the government is still exploring whether it should intervene.

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Goldsmith said the proposed changes would give the communications minister the power to decide which digital platforms would be subject to the law, adding that an independent regulatory body would be appointed to oversee the bill.

Goldsmith said one of the government's coalition partners, the right-wing ACT New Zealand party, would not support the bill, meaning it would need the support of other parties to pass.

The opposition Labour Party said it would scrutinise the amendments but supported the purpose of the bill.

“I am relieved that the government is showing common sense and pushing forward legislation to make the media landscape fairer for online news businesses,” Willie Jackson, Labour’s media and broadcasting spokesman, said in a statement.

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