New Zealand plans to start mandating that Google and Meta pay local media companies for reposting news content on their platforms. The country’s Broadcasting and Media Minister, Hon Willie Jackson, announced the planned legislation in a Sunday press release.
“It’s not fair that the big digital platforms like Google and Meta get to host and share local news for free. It costs to produce the news and it’s only fair they pay,” Willie Jackson said in the statement. “New Zealand news media, particularly small regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online. So it is critical that those benefiting from their news content actually pay for it,” he added.
New Zealand’s announcement follows the passage of a similar law in Australia. Canada has also said its lawmakers are in the process of drafting related policy. And New Zealand noted that its new rule would be based on what’s been done elsewhere.
Basically: Google and Meta would be allowed to negotiate their own deals with news publishers. However, if no deal is reached within a certain time period, the government would then step in to map out a required negotiation. Facebook and Google already have a few commercial deals in place with New Zealand news organizations, for instance with NZME Ltd., according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Some turbulence followed the passage of the Australian legislation as Meta tried to undermine the rule, and for a time during negotiations the company simply blocked all news from its Facebook platform. However, months after the law first went into effect, the Australian government declared that it had been a success and resulted in more than 30, negotiated agreements in a report released last Thursday.
Though the New Zealand law isn’t yet fully drafted, once it is the country’s Labour Party-led government is expected to easily pass the legislation, according to a report from Reuters.
Separately, Meta has seemed to make up the difference in Australia and elsewhere by ending its U.S. pay-to-republish deals with major outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal earlier this year. Previously, the social media company had been paying more than $100 million in total to these news organizations, but halted those contracts in July. At that time, a company spokesperson told Gizmodo in an email, “most people do not come to Facebook for news, and as a business it doesn’t make sense to over invest in areas that don’t align with user preferences.” (Never mind the “News Feed.”)
Similar to the tech industry, media outlets have also been (once again) struggling through cost cuts and layoffs as the online advertising model continues to be a difficult financial framework to succeed in.
Gizmodo reached out to both Meta and Google for comment, but neither company immediately responded. However, to the Wall Street Journal, Meta’s regional policy director, Mia Garlick said, “we are concerned about the unintended impacts future legislation will have on innovation in both the media and broader tech sector.”