Kris Faafoi hopeful meaningful talk will occur between Facebook, Google and local media

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi met Facebook and Google last week and he wants to encourage them to have commercial discussions with traditional media as is happening in Australia.

“I am confident the commercial discussions taking place between traditional media and digital platforms will also begin here in New Zealand and I encourage that,” he told Parliament’s social services and community select committee today.

Regardless of the outcome of such discussions, policy work underway would assess various regulatory and funding options to inform decisions by both Government and the private sector.

“They will heavily be influenced by the nature of the actions and discussions between platforms and media companies.”

The Australian Government has passed a law requiring the digital giants to undertake good-faith discussions with media companies about how to make up for the fact that their platforms run content of media companies and have stripped them of advertising revenues.

Faafoi last month announced a $55 million fund over three years to help support public-interest journalism.

He also made it clear today that talk of a new media entity involving both RNZ and TVNZ was still being developed, despite a hiatus in the past few years.

“This fund for public interest journalism is a transitional measure as we look further ahead and our strong public media work programme recognises the essential contribution that public media makes to our wider sector and I am committed to ensuring this work progresses as a priority.

“Now is the right time for us to understand our future needs and deliver on that commitment.

“The new entity would draw on the skills and experience of both RNZ and TVNZ but with the flexibility to meet the needs and expectations of modern, diverse New Zealand audiences.

“A new entity would complement and collaborate with the private media sector to establish a more sustainable and representative eco-system.”

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage was currently working on a detailed business case to assess the viability of a new entity, including costs and a preferred operating model.

“We need to work though a number of issues impacting the longer-term sustainability of the sector and these longer-term sustainability issues are largely driven by a shift in advertising from traditional forms of media to digital intermediaries.”

The work programme, which was approved by Cabinet in August last year, included work to advance longer-term sustainability in parallel with the sector itself developing new types of revenue-gathering business models.

“This work will include looking at the impact of digital intermediaries in our news media market and I am watching developments overseas including in Australia and France and the impact the various interventions will have on both tech companies and the media sector.”

Last month Facebook temporarily stopped publishers and people in Australia from reading or sharing news on the platform in response to proposed new laws in the nation that would force tech companies to negotiate with media companies over how much to pay them for news content.

However, Facebook lifted the ban less than a week later and struck a deal with the Australian Government.

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