No benefits in foreign ownership

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

UPDATED

NZME’s failure to persuade the High Court that there was life left in its attempt to acquire Stuff has ended that bid but leaves a pall of uncertainty over our largest media company.

Nine Entertainment made soothing noises in the wake of Justice Katz’s refusal to grant an interim injunction extending NZME’s period of exclusivity. It issued a statement in which it stated it would “…continue to operate Stuff and work for the best outcome for our audience, our people and the wider business.”

The key phrase in that statement is ‘the wider business’. Nine has told everyone who will listen that it wants out of the New Zealand market and the withdrawal by NZME of its Commerce Commission application (an effective end to its bid) does not change that. What has changed is that we now have no idea who the suitors for Stuff might be. Continue reading “No benefits in foreign ownership”

Elusive ‘second package’ of media assistance

Finance Minister Grant Robertson delivered a budget with big numbers this afternoon but, for Covid-affected media organisations seeking assistance, it was decidedly small on detail about what would be spend to help them and where.

Last month, when Communications Minister Kris Faafoi announced a $50 million media assistance package overwhelmingly aimed at broadcasters, the prospect of a second package in the budget was held out to the industry.

“I want to be very clear,” he said, “that this first phase of support alone will not be sufficient to see the sector through a prolonged period of restrictions and reduced advertising.  A second package of support is being developed and will be submitted for the COVID-19 budget discussions in May.”

It may, indeed, have been submitted but there was no indication today what that ‘second package of support’ might be. This was all the finance minister said in his Budget speech on the topic: “Media industry assistance is being developed over coming months”. And, as I write this, I am still waiting for any amplification from Kris Faafoi. Continue reading “Elusive ‘second package’ of media assistance”

Trust is a percentage gain

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

 

Public trust is a percentages game. A survey released last week tells us 53 per cent of New Zealanders trust overall news sources most of the time.

That isn’t a particularly high number, but it ranks well against other countries. We sit behind Finland (59 per cent), equal with The Netherlands, and ahead of Germany (47 per cent), the United Kingdom (40 per cent) and Australia (38 per cent). We are well ahead of the United States, where a dismal 32 per cent of the population trust most news most of the time. America, though, has become a very strange country under the leadership of President Trump. And when it comes to the news sources New Zealanders personally use, the percentage who trust it jumps to 62 per cent.

Our ranking will help to validate the campaigns being run by news media to demonstrate to the public that they are the trusted sources to news. Continue reading “Trust is a percentage gain”

Finally…someone gets tough on Facebook

TUESDAY COMMENTARY

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is rightly being praised for her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic but she needs to get over her Millennial attitude to social media and join Australia in making them pay their way.

Canberra has announced a tough mandatory code to make Facebook, Google and others pay for the news content that have been pillaging from news media’s digital platforms. New Zealand should do the same, preferably adopting the same code for a trans-Tasman approach to regulating companies that thought they were beyond the reach of mere governments. So far, our government has gone no further that saying ‘we’re looking at it’ but characterising it as ‘a longer-term measure’.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg wants a code developed by July and, if the tech giants do not negotiate payment rates in good faith, rates will be imposed. There will be heavy financial penalties for non-compliance. Expect the code to be in place before the end of the year. Continue reading “Finally…someone gets tough on Facebook”