RNZ spends $71,000 on Facebook ads while supporting bill to regulate digital giants

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 18, 2024 |

Radio New Zealand spent $71,842.53 on Facebook advertising over the past 12 months, despite supporting the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill, but the organisation said there was nothing wrong with doing both.

The bill seeks to create the conditions for fair bargaining and negotiation between New Zealand news media entities and digital platforms (such as search engines or social media platforms).

It aims to support commercial bargaining processes regarding the terms in which digital platforms can use or make New Zealand-produced news content available on their platforms.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority would be empowered to carry out functions under the bill as the independent regulator.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said “RNZ cannot simultaneously argue that the sharing of their content online is bad for business while at the same time seeing so much benefit in social media promotion of their content that they spend tens of thousands of dollars on paid promotion.

“This blatant contradiction shows their calls for government intervention are nothing more than a shameless money grab.

The information was obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union.

“RNZ’s endorsement of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill suggests they think platforms like Facebook and Google exploit New Zealand’s media landscape.

“RNZ’s Facebook ad spending shows they know that just isn’t true.

“It appears what RNZ is really upset about is the fact that we are now in the 21st century, so New Zealanders can access news from almost anywhere in the world.

‘Kiwis are turning away from a Government-owned media that they simply don’t enjoy or trust anymore.

“This rort would just lead to a re-run of the farce in Canada where social media sites pulled access to news. Scrambling for handouts and bailouts isn’t the answer to RNZ’s unwillingness to innovate” Molloy, said.

But an RNZ spokesperson said “it is perfectly possible to both support the aims of the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill to address the bargaining power imbalance between multinational global digital platforms and local news media companies and to choose to advertise on those platforms, as many media companies in New Zealand do.

RNZ has a vital role as New Zealand’s multi-platform public media organisation,  providing informative, challenging and entertaining content. Advertising is part of ensuring New Zealanders know how to find this content.”

The spokesperson said “ we carry out advertising across a range of different platforms – these include outdoor (billboards, buses, street furniture), display, print and digital. Every year we publish our total spending on advertising and publicity as part of our Annual Report. In 2023 we spent $762,000 on advertising and publicity. This amounts to around 1.3% of RNZ’s total budget.

Our Facebook advertising is less than 10% of our total advertising and publicity spend, and is restricted to paid advertising campaigns for our brand or for the promotion of specific video or podcast programmes. We do not pay for boosted posts or for paid advertising for news or opinion articles.”


Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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