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The standoff between the Australian Government and the global digital platforms has been a fascinating insight into the power the platforms, particularly Facebook, now hold.

Australia’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, just passed by the Australian Senate in the last 24 hours, allows the Australian Treasurer to designate global platforms who then must start negotiating with news businesses about how much to pay them for content through mediation, or if that fails, arbitration.

None of the platforms were happy with the thought of having to pay for something they have been getting for free up until now. And nor did they care that the advantage they had was driving news publishers out of business. However, the big stick of proposed legislation forced Google to reach deals with some major Australian news media outlets. It’s highly likely though that this would never have come about if Bill Gates and Microsoft hadn’t stepped into the breach with the threat of its search engine Bing replacing Google—sufficient enough a concern for Google to cave in.

Facebook however is a different matter. It’s such an all-pervasive platform with no real competition that Mark Zuckerberg felt emboldened enough to cut Australian news feeds from Facebook rather than pay up. An unintended consequence of this was to remove from Facebook Australian-originated information that was considered vital, such as that from health services providing Covid information, charities, food banks, and other important sources. Additionally, the removal of trusted news sources also reignited criticism of Facebook as a promoter of conspiracy theories and fake news.

Facebook’s bullying tactics were lambasted by UK and European Governments, but they did in fact force the Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to amend the proposed bill. Rather than all platforms being designated from Day 1, the Treasurer is required to give 30-day’s notice before a platform goes on the list. And Facebook gets to avoid going on the list at this point.

There has been considerable criticism of the Australian Government’s bill from a variety of sources, ranging from that it’s an incredibly blunt instrument to it being favourable towards the major Australian media players while doing nothing for small publishers. There’s more to come on this David vs Goliath battle but Round One seems to have gone to Facebook.

Meanwhile, at the Australian screen producers conference Screen Forever, Australian producers decried the Australian Government’s deregulation of Australia’s commercial networks while failing to regulate Subscription Video On Demand providers like Netflix. Deregulation means the screen industry there has lost the stringent quotas for local content that used to be required of the networks. At the same time, the Producer Offset—the Australian equivalent of the New Zealand Production Grant–for feature film was also lowered from 40% to 30%. These two hits created significant uncertainty about the ability of many Australian production companies to survive. Although there is a mooted requirement from the Aussie Government that SVODs and AVODs invest a percentage of their revenue on Australian content in the form of commissions, co-productions and acquisitions, it’s only in its early consultation phase with nothing concrete expected should it come to pass for some time. While a figure of five percent of revenue has been flagged by Government there as a level streamers would be required to invest in Australian content, amongst the production community 20 per cent is being touted as much more realistic.

This side of the Tasman it’s far too easy to say that the New Zealand Government is being gutless by avoiding to talk about any kind of regulation of global platforms or SVODs. I’m hoping that doesn’t prove to be true.

 

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director

 

Last updated on 26 February 2021

Lockdown border laws may keep us restricted to Aotearoa but Lap of Luxury, directed by Bryn Evans (DEGNZ) and offline edited by Steven Chow (DEGNZ) and Anthea Ede Smith, transports us to the world’s most glamorous places. Thanks to Evans, Chow and the production team behind the series, kiwis can indulge in the deluxe landscapes and architecture plotted around the globe.

New episodes released every Tuesday.

Watch now

Last updated on 25 February 2021

The three screen unions being the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ, Equity New Zealand and the New Zealand Writers Guild are pleased to announce the launch of a series of ‘Know Your Rights’ workshops at nine locations around New Zealand.

The workshops are for members and non-members of the guilds and intended to:

  • demystify contracts,
  • improve business management skills for contractors,
  • provide insight into the Screen Industry Worker Bill,
  • and allow each of the guilds to speak directly to specifics related to the careers of actors, writers, directors and editors.

Joining the three executive directors of the guilds to present on topics will be legal firm Hudson Gavin Martin (experts in media and IP law) and production accountant Natalie Doherty. Each workshop will be run from 9AM to 5PM in a series of joint and breakout sessions, and will also cover off on topics including:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Copyright
  • The difference between employer and contractor
  • Tips and advice on company structures, how to handle taxes, GST, per diems and expenses and more

Nine workshops are planned with two each in Auckland and Wellington, and one each in Dunedin, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington, Nelson, and Rotorua. The date for the first workshop is 12 March in Auckland.

The ‘Know Your Rights’ Workshop is a ‘must-do’ for any actor, director, editor or writer who seeks a successful career in the New Zealand screen industry, arming you with the knowledge, information and resources you need to negotiate and collaborate successfully and work sustainably.

 

Know Your Rights Workshop – Auckland

Price: Free – Tickets/spaces limited. Preference given to members. Book your seat now on Eventbrite.
Date: Workshop 1 – 12th March 2021
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm (9am arrival for a 9:30am start)
Venue: Click Studios – 145 Carrington Rd, Mt Albert, Auckland

 

Tour Dates 2021:

Auckland – Friday 12 March | Friday 25 June
Dunedin – Friday 26 March
Christchurch – Friday 30 April
Queenstown – Saturday 1 May
Wellington – Friday 21 May | Friday 30 July
Nelson – Friday 22 May
Rotorua – Saturday 31 July

Book your seat on Eventbrite

NB: Venues confirmed closer to the dates

 

These workshops are brought to you with the financial support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.  

Last updated on 19 March 2021

Congratulations to member Ruby Harris (fourth from the left, top row) for being selected for Someday Stories 2021. With the support of NZ On Air and Te Mangai Paho, six short films have been funded. According to Someday, the themes of these films are as diverse as ever before.

Ruby’s short drama, Pet Day, follows two horse loving best friends, Dani and Gabe as they prepare for their school’s annual ‘Pet Day’. It all sounds like fun and games until they learn something about Dani’s Step-Dad that will change their life forever.

Read more

Last updated on 25 February 2021

Episode one, directed by Charlie Haskell (DEGNZ) has been released in the US with more episodes being released weekly. Fellow DEGNZ members, Caroline Bell-Booth and Michael Hurst both directed seven episodes each in the franchises’ new series. The series was produced between lockdowns in 2020 and utilised local cast and crew whilst bringing international talent in as well.

Last updated on 2 March 2021