A crackdown on Facebook and Google could be looming "phase two" of the Goverment's media industry support package.
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Asked by NewstalkZB's Mike Hosking, "Why don't you just tax them, like Australia are?" Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi responded:
"We've certainly got that in the mix for the second package. Treasury officials have been in touch with their colleagues across the Tasman."
Faafoi also confirmed that a plan to merge state-owned broadcasters TVNZ and RNZ was now off the agenda.
"It's on ice. We have to put it on the backburner because obviously Covid has changed the media landscape," he said.
Faafoi said the Commerce Commission had made the "right decision" to block the NZME-Stuff merger, but also dropped another hit that the new environment could lead to a reassessment.
"Covid has obviously changed things and it's up to NZME whether it wants to progress that. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Because it's commercially sensitive," he said.
Yesterday Faafoi revealed the $50 million "phase one" of this government's media assistance package.
With the bulk of the funds going to relief from Kordia and NZ on Air fees for broadcasters, media commentator Gavin Ellis said, "They have privileged broadcasting above everybody else."
And tech pundit Peter Griffin said the government needed to address the underlying issue of Facebook and Google's impact on advertising revenue. Australia had been taking front-foot measures for two years, Griffin said. It was "streets ahead."
The Australian government has just introduced a measure to force Facebook and Google to pay for news from third-parties.
That comes on top a crackdowns on profit-shifting, a law change to threaten huge fines and even jail time for Big Tech executives over hate speech, and ACCC legal action against Facebook and Google over issues such as alleged misleading location-tracking claims and fake ads.
Our government has been considering a 3 per cent digital services tax on multinational tech company's revenue in New Zealand - but the idea has languished for nearly a year.
Now Faafoi has hinted his government could finally tackle Big Tech.
Even pre-Covid the media was "Starting to feel the pain of, obviously, the likes of Google or Facebook. That's one of the fundamental issues that we'll look at," Faafoi said.
He did not give a timeline for phase two of the bailout, beyond that more details would emerge "in coming weeks".
Griffin said, Our Government, "Hasn't done any preparatory work on the phase 2 which is a major failing. The ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] kicked off its inquiry two years ago, which is why it may have something tangible in place within a few months with its mandatory code. We've done next to nothing."