Post Tagged with: "news media canada"

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More Free Money: Media Lobby Campaigning For Even More Government Funding, Grants and Tax Reform

The proverbial ink is barely dry on the disastrous Bill C-18, yet the Canadian media lobby has already moved onto the next targets for government funding, grants, and tax reform. The effort, which is seemingly designed to ensure that government funding or regulation cover the entire cost of news, focuses on extending grants, expanding provincial tax credits, and overhauling the tax treatment of ad spending. It has hard to overstate how dangerous these policies have become as the sector’s addiction to government funding and regulation has come at an enormous cost that erodes public trust and created dependence on the very governments the press is supposed to hold to account.

The slippery slope of this government’s funding the media has been ongoing for years: the Local Journalism Initiative offered tens of millions in grant money, the Labour Journalism Tax Credit created a tax credit worth nearly $14,000 per journalist when established that was more than doubled last year on a retroactive basis to nearly $30,000 per journalist, and the Online News Act (Bill C-18) offered the hope (or more accurately illusion) of hundreds of millions more from Google and Meta. On top of the federal money, the Quebec government offers a similar tax credit system that comes close to ensuring that government money and regulation cover the entire cost of news journalists at print and digital publications in the province. And if that were not enough, the CRTC is working through its plan for Bill C-11, which the Canadian Association of Broadcasters hopes will lead to the creation of yet another news fund, with 30% of contributions from Internet streaming services such as Netflix and Disney going to the news divisions of Canadian broadcasters such as Bell and Rogers.

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February 21, 2024 13 comments News
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
Google News website screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/69pNSR

Regulations Alone Can’t Fix Bill C-18: Why News Media Canada’s “Surrender” May Not Be Enough to Stop Google From Blocking News Links in Canada

After months of urging Heritage Ministers Pascale St-Onge and Pablo Rodriguez to stand up to Google and Meta’s response to Bill C-18, News Media Canada – the lead lobbyist for the legislation – appears to have waved the surrender flag as it is now urging the government to accommodate Google’s concerns with draft regulations. The shift in approach unquestionably marks a retreat for the group, which literally drafted a version of the bill for the government and wielded the power of major media outlets to skew national coverage in favour of the legislation. While it insisted that the companies were bluffing when they said they would block news links if a mandated payments for links approach were adopted, it is now readily apparent that they were mistaken. Meta has blocked news links on its Facebook and Instagram platforms for more than two months and shows no sign of changing its approach. Given that Google appears to be moving in the same direction, News Media Canada’s decision to toss the government under the bus reeks of desperation as its members recognize that blocked news links on both Meta and Google would create enormous harm in lost traffic, cancelled deals, and an Online News Act that generates no revenues.

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October 13, 2023 12 comments News
office-team-regulation-consultation-unity-agreement by PXFuel, https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-xabnf

The Bill C-18 Regulation Fake-Out: Setting the Record Straight on When Bill C-18 Takes Effect and the Regulation Making Process

The rhetoric around Bill C-18 has escalated in recent days in light of the awful wildfires in NWT and British Columbia. In my view, the issues associated with these tragic events have little to do with Meta blocking news links and the attempt to bring it into the conversation is a transparent attempt to score political points (the connectivity issues with some NWT communities completely taken offline for days is somehow never mentioned). The reality is that Meta was asked about just this scenario at committee and it made it clear that it would not block any non-news outlet links. That is precisely what has been happening and the government’s legislative choices should be the starting point for understanding why compliance with the law involves blocking a very broad range of news links that extend beyond even those sources that are defined as “eligible news outlets”. 

The government and supporters of Bill C-18 talking points now emphasize two things in relation to Meta blocking news links: the law has yet to take effect and there is room to address their concerns in the regulation-making process. Both of these claims are incredibly deceptive, relying on the assumption that most won’t bother to read the actual legislation. If they did, they would see that (1) the law has received royal assent and can take effect anytime and (2) the regulation making process addresses only a small subset of Bill C-18 issues with most of the core issues finalized. In other words, the time to shape the law and address many of the key concerns was before the government repeatedly cut off debate in order to ensure it that received royal assent before the summer break.

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August 21, 2023 25 comments News
facebook error by Jeremy Yerse https://flic.kr/p/4LwdJ6 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Government’s Epic Bill C-18 Miscalculation on Mandating Payments for Links

Meta executives faced another round of criticism at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday, yet beyond the usual outrage emanating from MPs that have labelled critics as racist or dismissed online news outlets at not news, was the growing realization that the company’s plan to block news sharing in Canada if Bill C-18 passes in its current form may not be a bluff. Meta has adopted a consistent position for months that the bill creates the prospect of unlimited liability for linking to news articles, the vast majority of which are posted by the media companies themselves. Paying for those links is viewed as uneconomic and untenable by the company, which would rather exit news sharing altogether in Canada rather than cough up millions of dollars for links.

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May 9, 2023 22 comments News