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NZ gov’t pursues changes to production rebate, introduces local content legislation

The New Zealand government is looking to change the eligibility criteria for the NZ Screen Production Rebate and is pushing legislation that could make it compulsory for digital technology platforms to pay media companies for news.

Paul Goldsmith

The government intervention comes at a pivotal time for the media and content industry in New Zealand as the nation faces declines in local news after the closure of Warner Bros Discovery’s Newshub in May.

The NZ screen production industry has been calling for help as it fears the collapse of investment in news content will spread to local screen content investment and commissions.

New Zealand media and communications minister Paul Goldsmith said the government was committed to taking immediate action to support the media and content production sectors, as a long-term reform programme is developed by the industry.

Goldsmith confirmed that the first step would be to progress the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill with amendments that will support local media companies to earn revenue for the news they produce. The Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, was originally introduced last year by the prior Labour government, but will be presented in parliament with amendments to support local media companies, “to earn revenue for the news they produce.”

“I have looked closely at the design of the legislation and will be changing the approach to align more closely with the Australian digital bargaining code to give all companies greater certainty,” he said.

That law, which took effect in Australia in March 2021, gives the government power to force internet firms such as Meta and Google to negotiate content supply deals with media outlets. In recent weeks in Australia, Meta has threatened to stop paying Australian media companies for news and content with the government currently assessing intervention. The effect of that has already taken its fiscal toll on the Nine Network which has cut 200 staff as part of risk mitigation if talks with the tech giants and government collapse.

Goldsmith added that the government would also ‘tweak’ the eligibility criteria for the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate for locally made content with strong industry and cultural value, like long-running serial drama Shortland Street.

“Finally, I have spoken to NZ On Air about the role it can play in supporting local news and current affairs. They have committed to reporting back to Cabinet on progress by the end of the year,” said Goldsmith.

“All of these short-term measures will be in effect by the end of this year. On a wider reform programme, proposals for a truly modern and streamlined regulatory landscape are currently under development and the Government will be announcing next steps later in 2024.”

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