Talks sought with digital news giants

The Commerce Commission has received applications from New Zealand media companies seeking authorisation to negotiate with Facebook and Google about how their news appears on each platform.

The News Publishers’ Association of New Zealand (NPA) is seeking authorisation on behalf of itself and its membership to collectively negotiate with the tech giants for a period of 10 years.

The NPA is an industry association consisting of about 10 regional and national news media companies.

In Australia, a specific "bargaining code" has been introduced by law to help support the sustainability of the Australian news media sector by addressing the bargaining power imbalances between the global digital giants and Australian news businesses.

However, there is no such legislation in New Zealand.

NPA general manager Brook Cameron said it had filed the application, on behalf of New Zealand’s independent media, to seek approval for an initiative that should assist in achieving fairer remuneration for them to support their sustainability and viability.

"These global tech giants have built businesses of unimaginable size and amassed their dominant power by using ‘free press’ on their platforms — news made and paid for by media companies," Ms Cameron said.

"While New Zealand media companies are investing in Kiwi journalism, Google and Facebook use journalists’ content for free, pay very little tax in New Zealand, consume the vast majority of available digital advertising spend in New Zealand, and less than 10c in every dollar spent on digital advertising in New Zealand goes to New Zealand news producers.

"It’s a lose, lose, lose for New Zealand," she said.

A Commerce Commission spokesman said the NPA considered that any lessening of competition as a result of New Zealand news media companies collectively negotiating with Facebook and Google would be outweighed by the public benefits that were likely to arise.

According to the NPA, those benefits included likely reducing the costs of negotiating with the digital platforms, addressing significant bargaining imbalance with Facebook and Google, and various efficiency benefits, the commission spokesman said.

A public version of the applications is available on the commission’s case register.

The commission is seeking submissions on the appropriateness of allowing the NPA to give effect to the proposed collective negotiations while it considered the application.

Submissions close on December 1.

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter