The government released its draft Bill C-18 regulations on Friday ahead of the Labour Day weekend, but ironically those regulations do very little to ensure that new funding will be allocated toward employing journalists. While the regulations establish what amounts to a minimum 4% link tax on Google and Meta if they link to news content, they set no minimum requirements to spend the resulting revenues on journalists or news content. In fact, the government specifically dictates to the CRTC that the legislative requirement that an “appropriate portion of the compensation will be used for the production of local, regional and national news content” will involve no minimum amount and the agreements need only reference that “some” of the compensation will be used for that purpose. As a result, in the best case scenario for the government in which the Internet platforms pay for links by reaching commercial agreements with news outlets, the big beneficiaries such as Bell, Rogers, the CBC, and Postmedia would be free to spend the vast majority of the money generated by those deals on executive salaries, debt repayment, or any other purpose.
Post Tagged with: "journalism"
Why the Online News Act is a Bad Solution to a Real Problem, Part Two: Encouraging Clickbait and Low Quality Journalism With No “News Content” Standards
The first post in this series on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, focused on the problematic approach to what constitutes “making news content available”, as it encompasses everything from indexing to linking to news stories without reproducing the actual text. The approach raises serious risks to the free flow of information online and expands the law far beyond reasonable expectations of what “use” of news articles might mean. But the problems with expansive definitions in the bill are not limited to the “making available” provision. Bill C-18’s definitions for “news content”, “news business”, and “news outlet” are also exceptionally broad, raising their own series of concerns.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 125: Sue Gardner on Journalism, the Internet Platforms, and the Online News Act
Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez introduced Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – the second of three planned Internet regulation bills. There is much to unpack about the provisions in the bill including the enormous power granted to the CRTC, the extensive scope of the bill that could cover tweets or LinkedIn posts, the provision that encourages the Internet platforms to dictate how Canadian media organizations spend the money at issue, and the principle that news organizations should be compensated by some entities not only for the use of their work but even for links that refer traffic back to them.
Sue Gardner is the Max Bell School of Public Policy McConnell Professor of Practice for 2021-2022. A journalist who went on to head CBC.ca and later the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia), she is the only Canadian, and the first woman, to have run a global top-5 internet site. She joins the Law Bytes podcast for a conversation about journalism, the Internet platforms, and Bill C-18.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 96: More Harm Than Good – My Appearance Before the Senate Transport Committee on a Copyright Bill to Support Media Organizations
Bill S-225, Senator Claude Carignan’s copyright bill, would create a new compensation scheme for media organizations by establishing a new collective rights system for the use of news articles on digital platforms. It may not become law, but it has sparked considerable discussion within the Senate on the issue of media and Internet platforms. In fact, while the digital policy world was focused on Bill C-10, last month the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications held hearings on the bill with a wide range of witnesses that included News Media Canada, Facebook and Google. I was invited to appear in their last hearing of the session alongside Jamie Irving from News Media Canada and Kevin Chan from Facebook. This week’s Law Bytes podcast episode goes inside the virtual committee hearing room with my opening statement and exchanges with several Senators.
Canadian media organizations face difficult challenges in an age of virtually unlimited Internet competition, a dramatic shift toward digital advertising, and an unprecedented global economic and health crisis. That has led media groups to urge the federal government to “take on” Google and Facebook by requiring them to fund local media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far declined to do so. That may spark criticism in some quarters but claims that government-mandated payments from Internet companies will solve the sector’s ills are unconvincing.
My Financial Post op-ed notes that everyone agrees the media sector is more competitive than ever. News organizations such as the New York Times and Washington Post, digital media companies like The Athletic and The Logic, podcasters competing with mainstream media audio offerings and the CBC’s continued digital expansion all offer compelling and competitive news alternatives. This breadth of choice for Canadian news consumers isn’t the fault of Google or Facebook. It is a reflection of low barriers to market entry and a proliferation of services that often do a better job than many established media companies of serving specialized content.