We have a very serious situation in this country, and we are happy to hear that Minister for Cultural Heritage Stephen Guilbault said on Monday that the government is preparing laws to force tech giants to fairly compensate content creators.
Google and Facebook, two of the richest companies in history, control the entrance to the Internet highway in Canada. You decide what we, as a sovereign nation, see on the news and what we don’t. To make matters worse, they take advantage of the Canadians’ news and don’t pay for it.
Now all of Canada’s news media companies, large and small, are suffering for two reasons:
First, they don’t get paid for their content by Facebook and Google. and
Second, Facebook and Google account for over 80 percent of all Canadian digital advertising revenues. These massive American companies get virtually all of their sales and don’t pay for content. Movie content doesn’t work that way in Canada. Music content doesn’t work that way. TV show content doesn’t work that way. Why is news content treated differently?
We just have to look south of the border to see what happens when real news companies disappear and social media platforms spread divisive, fake news.
We must support healthy, independent, and diverse news companies as the backbone of our democracy.
This is urgent. The fact is that news companies across Canada are struggling as the effects of COVID-19 are accelerating the decline. Journalist jobs are disappearing.
That means real news keeps disappearing, and hatred and fake news fill the void. Let’s not allow that in Canada.
But there is good news. Australia found the solution. They created a law that forces tech companies to pay fairly for news content. This costs the taxpayer absolutely nothing.
We encourage all MPs to act quickly. Canada needs your guidance.
John Hinds is the President and CEO of News Media Canada
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