In his column, Andrew Coyne states, “But if publishers should be allowed to bargain collectively, they should also be allowed to bargain separately: there’s a difference, after all, between a union and a closed shop. Whereas the logic of the Postmedia/Unifor/News Media Canada position is that all of the newspapers should be compelled to bargain together – to thwart the platforms’ ‘divide and conquer’ strategy – and that Facebook Google should be compelled to negotiate with them.”
In this blog response, written by Paul Deegan and Jamie Irving, News Media Canada corrects Coyne’s error which stated that publishers are prohibited from bargain separately with tech platforms. This is a wholly incorrect reading of News Media Canada’s longstanding position. News Media Canada would also like to clarify that under no circumstances do we believe publishers should be compelled to negotiate collectively.
Mr. Coyne also states, “What publishers were demanding before – what some are still demanding – is to be paid for links, or rather for the government to make Facebook Google pay us for links: the headlines, sometimes accompanied by short snippets of text, that are a feature of both platforms.”
News Media Canada has not advocated for being paid for links. We do continue to advocate for being compensated fairly for the use of copyrighted content on these platforms.
In the past few weeks, News Media Canada has spoken with many publishers, including those who have signed licensing agreements with the platforms. All continue to believe that we urgently need federal legislation that includes collective negotiation – backed up with baseball-style arbitration – and a legislated code of conduct to level the playing field between publishers and platforms.
The Liberal government has shifted gears and is now asking for public input on how to force digital platforms to compensate Canadian news outlets, a move that comes as news industry representatives urge the government to move quickly on legislation. This move is happening despite a clear preference by the news industry for adapting Australia’s approach to Canada. Critics argue that the government is employing a ‘delay tactic’ ahead of upcoming election call.
In response to the Government of Canada’s release of its “What We Heard” Report on the consultations for new legislation on Digital Platforms, News Media Canada reiterated the need for revenue sharing to address the financial imbalance between digital platforms and news outlets. News Media Canada’s statement also emphasized the need for publishers to negotiate commercial deals with tech platforms on a level playing field.
This paywalled article reviews the submissions and results of the Government of Canada’s consultation on digital platforms. It also spotlights News Media Canada’s own self-serve Maple Network Exchange (MNE), which was created in 2020 to offer inventory to marketers and governments directly from an alliance of Canadian publishers composted of: Black Press Media, Postmedia, Brunswick News, Glacier Media, The Globe and Mail, La Presse, and Torstar, Metroland Media, SaltWire Network, Village Media, and the Winnipeg Free Press.
“What it does is it basically allows [advertisers] to get more bang for their buck. At the same time it helps Canada’s news publishers. So we see that that is a real win-win,” says Deegan.