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BIAS FOCUS by Leo Reynolds CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/4onuPt

On Media Bailouts and Bias: Why Government Media Policy Is Undermining Public Trust

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.

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November 25, 2023 6 comments News
Arctic Council Ministerial Dinner by Ulkoministeriö CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/S3CQxV

Canadian Government Quietly Backs Down on its Implementation Plans for a Digital Services Tax

The federal government has quietly backed down from its plans to implement a new digital services tax as of January 2024 that the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated would generate billions in revenue. It did not make the headlines or receive much promotion, but after months of insisting that a digital services tax would take effect in Canada in January 2024, the government has now removed that implementation deadline in the Fall Economic Statement. The battle over the proposed tax had sparked increasing anger between Canada and the U.S., with dozens of U.S. Senators and Representatives signing letters urging the government to delay its plans. The Canadian plan remains to establish a retroactive three percent tax that will hit a wide range of businesses, but given fears moving ahead now would jeopardize a global agreement that is designed to address the digital services tax issue, Canada has seemingly faced the obvious reality and backed down.

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November 23, 2023 10 comments News
Freedom_Homes,_Government_Bailout_Money_(3473264448).jpg, Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Bill C-18 Bailout: Government Announces Plans to Pay For 35% of Journalist Costs for News Outlets as It More Than Doubles Tax Credit Per Employee

The government has taken the first step to creating a bailout for its disastrous Bill C-18 by agreeing to News Media Canada demands to increase the support under the Labour Journalism Tax Credit. While the current system covers 25% of the journalist costs up to $55,000 per employee (or $13,750), the government’s fall economic statement increases both the percentage covered and cap per employee. Under the new system, which is retroactive to the start of this year, Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations (which covers print and digital but not broadcasters) can now claim 35% of the costs of journalist expenditures up to $85,000 per employee. The increases the support to up to $29,750 per employee or an increase of 116%. This new support will run for four years at a cost of $129 million ($60 million this year alone).

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November 21, 2023 30 comments News
CRTC Hearings, CPAC, https://www.cpac.ca/crtc-hearings

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 185: Bill C-11 at the CRTC – A Preview of the Upcoming Online Streaming Act Hearing

The much-anticipated Bill C-11 hearing opens this week at the CRTC. For the next three weeks, the Commission will hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including digital and legacy creators, Internet giants, telecom companies, and consumer groups. This hearing, which builds on an earlier consultation on registration requirements, will address issues that include mandated Internet streaming company contributions and discoverability requirements. What brought us to this moment and what lies ahead? This week’s Law Bytes podcast reviews the lengthy legislative process, the key players at the hearings, and how this consultation fits within the broader Bill C-11 framework.

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November 20, 2023 1 comment Podcasts
Slow by Ann Douglas https://flic.kr/p/nTFwPb CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge’s Tries to Re-Write Bill C-11 History: There Is No Quick Implementation and the Government is to Blame

The government plans to release its final policy direction on Bill C-11 today just days ahead of the start of a weeks-long series of hearings at the CRTC on the Online Streaming Act (I am scheduled to appear in early December). Ahead of the release, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge tries to re-write history, urging fast enactment of the legislation and blaming the Conservatives for the delays. Yet here is the reality: Bill C-10, the predecessor to Bill C-11, would have become law back in 2021 had the government not opened the door to regulating user content. Instead, the bill rightly became a source of concern, leading to years of legislative delays that virtually guarantees that nothing will take effect until 2025 at the earliest.

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November 14, 2023 23 comments News