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Mike's Minute: The media bill won't work

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jul 2024, 10:18am

Mike's Minute: The media bill won't work

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jul 2024, 10:18am

The fact the Government is going ahead with Labour's Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, albeit with amendments, is not the story. 

The fact ACT has played the “Agree to Disagree" card is not really the story. 

The real story is the question of, does it solve the problem? 

What exactly is the problem? 

The problem is the media, or at least parts of it, are in a financial hole and have decided that if only we get Facebook and Instagram to the table and get them to give us some money, we can bring back Fair Go or hire back a journalist or two. 

If only it were that easy. 

There is universal agreement in media that the social media giants are taking money out of the market and there is general agreement that that is pretty much unfair, given they monetise someone else's work. 

The fact the media outlets use Facebook etc to pump their service and outlets and digital views doesn’t get quite as widely covered. 

But let's not interrupt the David and Goliath narrative flow and kill the buzz. 

Should Facebook cut a deal? Probably. 

Have they elsewhere? Sort of, but not really. 

In Canada it hasn’t worked well. The Government has ended up handing out money to news organisations after services got turned off. 

Australia is in the middle of striking another deal which may or may not work. The Government are under pressure from places like Channel 9 and 7, who are laying off people by the hundred. 

It all boils down to the idea of whether a social media giant needs New Zealand. Do they care enough to pay? 

This Government can pass a law and introduce arbitration until they are blue in the face. 

We are trying to make them pay the same way social media giants aren't supposed to allow extremists and dangerous material online, or lure impressionable teenagers to spend their life scrolling. Have those laws worked? 

How many American and European investigations and committee question and answer sessions do you want to see where politicians act tough for the camera? Mark Zuckerberg might stand up and apologise to grieving families, but has it worked? 

Yes, we have a problem. But do we have a solution? 

It's probably worth the exercise, but don’t be remotely surprised if in the real world it achieves next to nothing. 

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