While more than 450 Canadian news outlets have closed their doors since 2008, the government wants journalists to be paid to broadcast their content.
The Canadian government tabled a bill on Tuesday, April 5 to force web giants, such as Facebook or Google, to conclude commercial agreements with the media in order to remunerate them for the recovery of their content. “Thanks to this law, the web giants will have to be accountable, contribute to the establishment of a news ecosystem that is more equitable, an ecosystem that supports independence, freedom of the press” , defended the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, during a press briefing.
The text aims to “ensure that the news media and journalists receive fair remuneration for their work” , according to a press release from the ministry. “If we look at the revenues for 2020, there are two platforms which are in a dominant position, therefore Google and Facebook” , added the minister who specified that they receive “80% of online revenues” . “Out of 10 billion, that’s huge ,” he added.
This bill, entitled “Online News Act”, is inspired by the one adopted in 2021 by Australia, the first of its kind in the world. The text was easily adopted after Facebook and Google reached agreements to avoid being subject to binding arbitration. It paves the way for these two major digital players to invest tens of millions of dollars in local content deals. More than 450 Canadian news outlets have closed since 2008, including more than 60 in the past two years alone, according to the ministry.
The Google group and other major platforms are accused by the press of profiting from its content without sharing the revenue they derive from it. To resolve this situation, the EU introduced in 2019 a “neighboring right” which should allow the remuneration of press publishers for the content used by online platforms. After being reluctant, Google signed agreements in November with French newspapers to remunerate the use of their content, a world first. AFP signed an agreement with Google at the end of 2021 on “neighboring rights” which remunerates the agency for five years for its content presented by the American giant, as well as two commercial contracts, also signed for five years.