News

Lisa Hepfner by Joey Coleman (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/2miRboJ

Dismissing Digital News Outlets: Liberal MP Claims Online News Services Don’t Report News

Since its introduction last spring, online news outlets have expressed fears that Bill C-18, the Online News Act, will primarily benefit large incumbent news organizations. Those concerns grew once the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that more than 75% of the revenues would go to broadcasters such as Bell, Rogers, and the CBC. After Postmedia and Torstar collect their share, there may be little left for innovative online startups. The government has seemingly tried to ignore those startups with Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez talking about 400+ news outlet closures since 2008, but neglecting to refer to the hundreds of new outlets that have sprung up during the same period.

During the clause-by-clause review of Bill C-18, Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner, herself a former journalist, provide a stunning illustration of how the government only views incumbent news outlets as worthy of support. Responding to a proposed Conservative amendment to the bill, Hepfner stated:

Read more ›

November 24, 2022 4 comments News
One Billion Dollars by Matt Brown https://flic.kr/p/pq2SsN (CC BY 2.0)

No Billion Dollar Bonus: Officials Admit Most Bill C-11 Funding Isn’t New and Will Still Be Controlled by Foreign Streamers

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and department officials appeared before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications yesterday on Bill C-11. I posted a Substack of my live tweeting of the Minister’s appearance, which included continued gaslighting on the applicability of the bill to user content and an acknowledgement that it could lead to algorithmic manipulation. After Rodriguez departed, officials took questions for another hour. One of the most notable exchanges involved the express admission that the much-touted estimate that the bill would generate a billion dollars is massively overstated. In fact, department officials now admit that most of that money isn’t new at all. Rather (much as I’ve argued), it is simply a re-allocation of existing expenditures in Canada that is unlikely to result in significant increased economic activity or new jobs.

Read more ›

November 23, 2022 2 comments News
Freedom of Expression is Not A Loophole: Responding to the Government’s Inaccurate Defence of Mandated Payments for Links in Bill C-18

Freedom of Expression is Not A Loophole: Responding to the Government’s Inaccurate Defence of Mandated Payments for Links in Bill C-18

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage opened its clause-by-clause review of Bill C-18 on Friday with some extensive questions about the scope of coverage of the bill and the opportunity to vote on several amendments. The meeting finally provided the chance to ask department officials for their views on key questions, including whether the government believes that services such as Reddit and Twitter are caught by the law (the answer was yes they are digital news intermediaries, but may not be sufficiently dominant to be required to negotiate mandate payments). The most important moment in the hearing came toward the end, when Conservative MP Rachael Thomas moved an amendment to exclude links from the scope of the definition of news content. That approach would still ensure that news publishers are covered for uses of their work such as republication (which is precisely what most would envision) but safeguard the foundation of the free flow of information on the Internet. 

Read more ›

November 21, 2022 4 comments News
CRTC at Senate TRMC Committee, November 16, 2022, https://senparlvu.parl.gc.ca/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20221116/-1/11512

Oops, He Did It Again: CRTC Chair Ian Scott Tries to Walk Back Bill C-11 Comments, But Officials Confirm Power to Regulate User Content is in the Bill

CRTC Chair Ian Scott returned to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications last night, presumably hoping that his fourth House and Senate committee appearance involving Bill C-11 might allow him to say what the government clearly would like, namely that the bill will not lead to the regulation of user content. Yet Scott has failed each time, because the bill plainly does contain that power. In this instance, Scott embarrassed himself, the CRTC, and the entire legislative process as he demonstrably failed to defend the independence of the CRTC and zig-zagged between actively promoting the bill, claiming that was not his role, and even bizarrely offering to draft potential amendments.

Read more ›

November 17, 2022 12 comments News
Meet Ian, The reproduction is a copy of the version available at https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/acrtc/organ.htm#presidentBio. The reproduction is not  an official version of the materials reproduced, nor has it been made, in affiliation with or with the endorsement of the CRTC.

In His Own Words: CRTC Chair Ian Scott on Bill C-11

As noted in yesterday’s post on CRTC Chair Ian Scott’s upcoming Bill C-11 appearance before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, sources indicate that Scott requested the re-appearance in order to “clarify” his earlier remarks. Since those remarks were themselves a clarification of an earlier clarification, there is seemingly no end to Scott’s willingness to try to downplay the regulating of user content provisions that are plainly included in the bill. While the appearance itself raises concerns about government interference at the Commission, it is worth revisiting again what Scott has told both House and Senate committees with regard to Bill C-11.

Read more ›

November 16, 2022 5 comments News