In the recent dispute between major tech companies and Canada’s print and digital publishers over who should benefit from Canadian news content, MPs have written to federal lawmakers accusing Google Canada of disseminating misinformation about them.
“It is important that we correct the facts,” John Hind, CEO of News Media Canada, told iPolitics.
News Media Canada is the lobby group representing most of Canada’s print and digital publishers. It will Ottawa aims to regulate Big Tech’s monopoly on advertising revenue and its ability to benefit from Canadian content.
In its letter to MPs earlier this month, Google Canada said: “The advent of the Internet, not Google, has disrupted the news industry.”
Google denies news content theft because the internet simply gives users more options for news content at cheaper prices.
“We don’t provide the content, just a link and sometimes a small excerpt from the article to give users a preview,” Google wrote, adding that it does “Last year more than five billion visits were sent to Canadian news publishers for free.”
Google also said it had $ 9 million in advertising revenue related to news inquiries in Canada last year. Most of the revenue comes from commercial inquiries, not news inquiries.
More than 500,000 Canadian companies have benefited from buying digital ads from Google – ads they couldn’t afford in print, the company added.
In a letter signed by Hinds last week, News Media said Facebook and Google exploit Canadian content – and the lion’s share of the advertising revenue that is essential to its production – “in a monopoly abuse of power”.
“This is deliberately undermining local newspapers across Canada and seriously jeopardizing the local news media as a whole,” the letter said.
News Media Canada has long pushed Ottawa to follow Australia’s lead by taxing major technologies like Facebook and Google for sharing links created by news organizations.
This would allow for a negotiated arrangement between the two, so news companies would be compensated for stories shared on big tech platforms. However, the policy known as the “link tax” also carries the risk that Big Tech will completely distance itself from exchanging messages, which Facebook threatened in Australia.
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Hinds said the news industry is facing big tech players who advocate “vicious lobbying “- but also representatives of the industry.
Torstar Corporation, the parent company of iPolitics, is also advocating the Australian fair content payment model and would like to discuss whether digital subscriptions are income tax deductible.
News media step up efforts on Parliament Hill as MPs view Bill C-10 as an amendment to the Broadcasting Act. It was launched in November and is currently on second reading in the House of Commons.
The proposed changes would allow Canada’s Broadcasting Authority to solicit financial contributions from players such as Netflix, Spotify, Crave and Disney Plus. However, it was clear to the government that measures that require digital platforms like Google and Facebook to remunerate news publishers would be dealt with in separate legislation.
Hinds said News Media Canada’s letter has the support of MPs from all parties and members Understand that digital players are not a harmless actor when it comes to exchanging messages.
Due to the lack of opposition from federal lawmakers, he said that measures to combat link sharing “should be fairly easy to advance” even in a minority parliament.
With files by Janet Silver.
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