Media firm NZME may opt to bargain content deal with Google, Facebook

Nov 26 (Reuters) - New Zealand media firm NZME on Friday said it may opt to engage directly with Google and Facebook for fair payment for its news content even as the country’s news publishers association sought regulatory approval for collective bargaining with the digital platforms.

The News Publishers' Association (NPA) on Thursday filed here an application with the New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) seeking approval on behalf of its members to collectively bargain with Alphabet unit Google and Meta Platforms , formerly Facebook, for fair payments for news published on their websites.

NPA represents about 50 daily and community newspapers in New Zealand.

"While NZME fully supports the NPA application, it is important to note that participation in the arrangement proposed by the NPA is voluntary," NZME said in a statement here.

NZME, which owns the New Zealand Herald, added that it may continue to engage directly with the tech giants and will have full discretion to choose whether to participate in the collective bargaining initiative while the NZCC reviews the application.

NZME’s portfolio also includes several regional newspapers, as well as radio channels and online websites.

Google and Facebook have been required here since March to negotiate with Australian news outlets for content that drives traffic and advertising to their websites.

Earlier this month, the search engine giant said here it will spend A$1.00 billion ($718.80 million) in Australia over five years to mend its ties months after a threat to pull its services from the country. ($1 = 1.3912 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Yamini C S and Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru Editing by Paul Simao)