The Rogers-Shaw merger saga was always destined to end on the desk of Innovation, Science and Industry Ministry François-Philippe Champagne. The merger has followed a familiar pattern: the companies started with a plan to merge without any divestitures that never stood a serious chance of approval, followed by adopting the Bell-MTS playbook of divesting assets to the weakest possible competitor in Xplorenet. When that didn’t fly, Videotron marched in to scoop up the wireless assets at a discount, complete with a story about exporting Quebec competition to other provinces and a politically attractive narrative for a Quebec-based minister who is reported to harbour future leadership ambitions.
Parliament remains on break for most of the month of January, but that hasn’t cooled interest in Bills C-11 and C-18. I’ve appeared on several podcasts in recent weeks on these bills that may interest. Last week, I was pleased to appear on CBC’s Front Burner for an episode titled “Will Canada Make Web Giants Pay For News?”. The discussion with host Jayme Poisson focused on the implications of paying for links, the inclusion of the CBC in the system, and potential alternatives that would mitigate against the harms created by the bill.
This week’s Law Bytes podcast features a look at the year in review along with some guesses at what lies ahead. Before wrapping up for the year, the next two posts will highlight the most popular posts and podcast episodes of the past year. Today’s post starts with the top posts, which have a strong Bill C-11 emphasis alongside posts on Bill C-18, online harms, and the Rogers outage during the summer.
The Bill C-18 Fallout: Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner Equates Linking to News Articles on Facebook to Theft
Last month, Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner shocked Canadian online news outlets by stating that “they’re not news.They’re not gathering news. They’re publishing opinion only.” The comments sparked instant criticism from news outlets across the country, leading Hepfner to issue a quick apology. In the aftermath of the comments, Hepfner said nothing for weeks at Heritage committee studying Bill C-18. That bill passed third reading yesterday – I posted on the embarrassing legislative review – and Hepfner was back at it. Rather than criticizing online news outlets, this time she targeted the Internet platforms, saying the bill would make it “harder for big digital platforms like Facebook and Google to steal local journalists’ articles and repost them without credit.”