Canada has introduced new legislation compelling tech platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to compensate Canadian publishers for sharing their content.
The bill, says the government, ‘would ensure that major digital platforms fairly compensate news publishers for their content and enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace, including the sustainability of independent local news businesses.’
Similar to a law introduced in Australia last year, Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act, would require platforms with ‘a bargaining imbalance with news businesses’ to make commercial arrangements with broadcasters and other publishers, most likely by sharing advertising. revenues.
Smaller publishing outlets would be allowed to team up to negotiate a deal. And if an agreement cannot be reached within six to 12 months, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) would be awarded.
“A free and independent press is fundamental to our democracy. It’s how we stay informed and engaged in what’s happening in our communities and across the country. Right now, the health and future of the news industry – especially local news – are at risk, “says Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez.
“We want to make sure that the news media and journalists are fairly compensated for their work. Now more than ever, Canadians need reliable and credible information, especially in a time of greater mistrust and disinformation.”
The bill echoes a similar law introduced in Australia last year that initially led Facebook to prevent Australians sharing news on the site. Later, the company reached an agreement with the company. And since then, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Facebook and Google have paid out more than $ 200 million to Australian media outlets, providing a major boost to the sector.
According to the Canadian government, television, radio, newspapers and magazines have lost $ 4.9 billion over the past 12 years. At least one third of Canadian journalism jobs have disappeared since 2010, and, from 2008 to August 2021, almost 450 news outlets have closed.
Meanwhile, Canadians are increasingly accessing news via digital platforms, where 80 per cent of online advertising revenues are shared between a small number of platforms.
The Canadian bill has been welcomed by media outlets.
“This approach has been a shining success in Australia, where large and small publishers are inking meaningful content licensing agreements,” says Jamie Irving, chair of News Media Canada.
“Trusted information is needed more today than ever before, and real news reported by real journalists costs real money. This legislation levels the playing field and gives Canada’s news publishers a fair shot and doesn’t require additional taxpayer funds.”