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The government must act to save Canadian journalism

By letter to the editor on February 11, 2021.

We have a very serious situation in this country, and we are happy to hear that Minister for Cultural Heritage Steven Guilbeault said on Monday that the government was 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 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 make 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?
All we have to do is look south of the border to see what happens when real news companies disappear and social media platforms distribute divisive, fake news. We must support healthy, independent, and diverse news companies as the backbone of our democracy.
This is urgent. It is a fact that news companies across Canada are going out of business. COVID-19 is accelerating the decline. Journalist jobs are disappearing. This means that real news keeps disappearing and hate and fake news are all that remains to be spread. Let’s not allow that in Canada.
But there is good news. Australia found the solution. They created a law that forces the trillion-dollar monopolies 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
President and CEO
News Media Canada

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