Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge’s deal with Google on Bill C-18 for an annual $100 million contribution has sparked some unsurprising crowing from partisans who insist the fears that the government had mishandled the Online News Act failed to recognize a well-executed negotiation strategy. Yet the response from industry supporters of the bill has been noticeably muted: News Media Canada did not issue a press release with CEO Paul Deegan noting that the impact would depend on the forthcoming regulations, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters said it was relieved there was a deal and that links would not be blocked, Quebec broadcasters are already calling for more support, and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting said the deal did not deliver the support it originally hoped for. These comments come closer to reflecting the reality of the deal, namely that the government misread the market, passed deeply flawed legislation, and was ultimately forced to row back core elements of the law and accept payments consistent with what was on the table over a year ago.
Concerns about the terrifying growth of antisemitism in Canada have been top of mind for me and many in the Jewish community for weeks. While some have thankfully spoken up, discouragingly too many remain silent despite shootings at Jewish schools, molotov cocktails and vandalism at Jewish community centres, and threats at Jewish businesses and homes. We desperately need strong, unequivocal action from our leaders, colleagues, and neighbours. Yesterday, I appeared before the Canadian Heritage committee as part of its study on “Tech Giants’ Current and Ongoing Use of Intimidation and Subversion Tactics to Evade Regulations in Canada and Across the World”. I’ll post more on the appearance on this odd study shortly – my focus was on how regulatory capture from legacy creator groups and News Media Canada undermined the Bill C-11 and C-18 process – but the discussion provided the opportunity to urge the committee to ensure accountability on antisemitism.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 186: Andy Kaplan-Myrth on the CRTC’s Last Ditch Attempt to Fix Canada’s Internet Competition Problem
For many years, Canadians have lamented the state of competition for Internet broadband services, pointing to concerns regarding price and lack of choice. Earlier this month, the CRTC seemed to agree, admitting in a decision involving competitive access that it is “important that the Commission revise its approach to promote competition and protect the interests of Canadians.” Andy Kaplan-Myrth is Vice-President, Regulatory and Carrier Affairs at TekSavvy, one of the few remaining independent competitors in Canada. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the current state of competition, the recent CRTC decision, and what this might mean for the Canadian market.
Yesterday I was a guest on a Toronto-area radio station where I was asked to discuss the government’s plans to more than double the amount available per journalist as part of the labour journalism tax credit. After a discussion of the tax credit program and months of blocked news links on Facebook as a consequence of Bill C-18, the host shifted the discussion by suggesting that the media had largely become propaganda on behalf of the government, insisting that these measures were consistent with a strategy of either blocking or influencing news coverage. I paused for a moment and said I disagreed, noting that there was good journalism and bad journalism, and his take was bad journalism. The segment ended immediately after that.
That experience came to mind later in the day as the debate over media bias and government funding captured further attention after Jenni Byrne, a leader in the Pierre Poilievre team, tweeted that criticism of Poilievre’s interactions with a journalist could be chalked up to the increased funding and that the bailout would mean journalists “would do whatever the PMO says.” Byrne’s comment strikes me as absurd as those of the radio host. All journalists have some biases. They wouldn’t be human if they didn’t. But the suggestion that a government tax plan would influence their individual coverage is just not credible.