Minister Paul Goldsmith addresses concerns big tech companies could retaliate to Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill

Media and Communications Minister Paul Goldsmith admits there are risks a bill that forces tech giants to pay news organisations for content they use on their sites could have consequences. 

The Government yesterday announced it would progress the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill with amendments to support local media companies to earn revenue for the news they produce. 

The legislation would require social media platforms that make use of news to strike deals with media outlets to pay for the content. 

ACT invoked its "agree to disagree" provision in its Coalition agreement and will not be supporting the bill through Parliament. However, with the support of National, NZ First and likely Labour, who originally introduced the legislation during its time in government, it will likely pass through Parliament later this year. 

Appearing on AM, Goldsmith addressed concerns tech companies could retaliate.  

Canadian news has been blocked from Meta platforms since August 2023 so the tech giant can avoid paying fees to media companies. Meta has also suggested it could ban links to news on its sites such as Facebook and Instagram in Australia if it too makes it pay licensing fees.   

"All around the world, countries are trying different techniques to encourage what we've never seen before in history in the sense of these very, very powerful global powers that do wonderful stuff…" Goldsmith said. 

"But our public interest in all this is to ensure that we have sustainable journalism because that's an important part of our democracy and secondly that we continue to have access to our stories and our music on air in a very cluttered landscape." 

He said the purpose of the bill is to act as a backstop to ensure conversations around paying for material happen. 

Goldsmith said Google and Meta are not supportive of the bill. 

"There are risks with whatever you do. If we do nothing there's risks that they walk away from the current engagements. If we pass the bill there's risks that it could have consequences," he said. 

The bill has been slightly changed from Labour's legislation to move closer in line with Australia's approach which has a ministerial designation. 

"Nothing happens unless a minister is persuaded that those negotiations aren't happening in the proper way," Goldsmith said. 

"It's not an easy situation. We've had some strong encouragement from most of the media here to look seriously at it and that's what we're doing."