Government inaction has cost news publishers

News Media Canada members are calling on the federal government to introduce the long-awaited policy to allow publishers to negotiate fairly with Facebook and Google.

Yesterday’s announcement by Facebook regarding short-term commercial arrangements it has undertaken with a few Canadian media outlets underlines the need for the government to follow through urgently on the commitment it has made to curtail the predatory monopoly practices of both Facebook and Google and level the playing field for Canadian news media.

Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage have committed to legislation to rein in the web giants, who abuse their monopoly power by diverting 80% of online advertising revenues in Canada and distributing content generated by Canadian journalists without compensation. Since October of last year, News Media Canada has called for Canada to adopt the approach enacted by the Australian Parliament, which requires the web giants to negotiate collectively with that country’s news media to provide fair compensation for content.

Until news media in this country can negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook, the two multinationals will continue to divide and conquer, using their power and market dominance to drive terms that are in their favour against smaller, more financially vulnerable news media outlets. Far from contributing to the resolution of the problem, this approach only solidifies their stranglehold.

As the response of the opposition parties this week has shown, there is a broad, bipartisan consensus for action now.  We call on the government to keep its commitment to Canadians who rely on local news and to introduce legislation before Parliament rises for the summer.

– Jamie Irving is Vice President of Brunswick News Inc. and Chair of News Media Canada.