Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) to Face New Digital Media Laws in New Zealand

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New Zealand plans to introduce content and classification requirement for SVoD services, similar to those followed by broadcasters

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been operating in New Zealand for more than a year now without being bothered much by the nation’s regulations. However, things are about to change soon, as Broadcasting and Communications Minister Amy Adams seeks to overhaul the current laws regulating the subscription video on demand (SVoD) services.

TVNZ recently reported that the upcoming rules would expose content by SVoD service providers to the same Broadcasting Act which reinforces standards for TV stations. The government seeks to introduce new law which would take into account SVoD services, reinforcing the same advertising controls and classification requirements applied on traditional broadcasters.

While the new regulations will affect Netflix, they would not target YouTube and Facebook. Ms. Adams said the government’s only aim is to regulate the mainstream entertainment sites, rather than focusing on all type of online video content.

“On-demand content is either regulated inconsistently or not at all, which can potentially expose the public to harm, as all content is not subject to the same classification standard,” Ms. Adams said, adding that new standards are not for Facebook, YouTube, or user-generated platforms, as well as for current affairs and news-related sites.

There are some complications regarding SVoD content which can be covered by the Film, Video and Publication Act, the Broadcasting Act, or not at all. However, she believes that the upcoming changes would overcome those confusions.

Ms. Adams stated that the Broadcasting Standards Authority, watchdog for radio and TV, would likely govern the new standards which would make it compulsory for SVoDs to fulfill the same content and classification requirements which are currently being fulfilled by broadcasters. She explained that many local consumers are now watching TV online; however, the classification rules that many people who are dependent on do not exist there.

The users demand the same regulations for online content to give them an idea if, for example, a TV series can be watched with family. Earlier today, The Country Caller reported that the classification system in Australia is leading to delays in release of new TV shows and movies, which could affect its subscriber numbers as local competitors are rising. If the regulators in New Zealand turn out to be as slow as the Australian ones, that would definitely create more problems for the company in Australia.

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