OTTAWA – BUSINESS – Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez has introduced Bill C-18, the Online News Act, which would establish a new legislative and regulatory framework to ensure fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace and for independent local news businesses, including rural and remote news organizations, by ensuring that news media and journalists receive fair compensation for their work.
The Minister reported that over 450 news outlets have closed since 2008.
“More than 60 of those closures have occurred in the last two years alone. Digital platforms and social media are now the gateways where people find, read and share news. Because of this, advertising revenues have shifted away from local news and journalists to these gatekeepers, who profit from the sharing and distribution of Canadian news content. In 2020, online advertising revenues in Canada reached $9.7 billion, with two companies taking in more than 80 percent of those revenues. It’s time to address this market imbalance,” stated Rodriguez.
Bill C-18 would require tech giants to make fair commercial deals with outlets for the news and information that is shared on their platforms. The deals would need to provide fair compensation, respect journalistic independence and invest in a diversity of Canadian news outlets, including independent local businesses, among other criteria. The bill allows media outlets, big and small, to bargain collectively. This is fundamentally fairer for Canadian news media, which will be able to negotiate on more equal terms with the tech giants. If deals are made between digital platforms and news media within certain timelines that meet specific criteria, digital platforms can seek an exemption from a requirement to enter into a negotiation process that could lead to final offer arbitration.
The Online News Act builds on similar legislation in Australia, by adding greater public accountability and transparency to the process. Bill C-18 supports a free, independent press and contributes to the sustainability of the digital news marketplace and the production of local, regional and national news content. In an era of rising disinformation and increasing public mistrust, this new legislation will ensure Canadians have access to quality, fact-based news at the local and national levels.