Your Levelling the Digital Playing Field update for August 17, 2021

Conservative Party of Canada releases election platform document

Yesterday, the Conservative Party of Canada released its election platform document, which contains specific provisions addressed to News Media Canada’s Levelling the Digital Playing Field campaign.

We have included the entire section of that document is quoted (below) for your reference:

Protecting and Ensuring the Independence of Canadian Media

Canadian media is in crisis. The loss of digital advertising revenue to American tech giants like Google and Facebook is putting local newspapers out of business, costing Canadian jobs, and undermining our ability to tell local, Canadian stories.

Canada’s Conservatives don’t believe that the solution is for the government to provide direct funding to hand-picked media outlets, something that undermines press freedom and trust in the media. Instead, we will secure a level playing field for Canadian media, ensuring that Canadians are paid fairly for the content they create while encouraging the creation of more Canadian media and culture.

Canada’s Conservatives will:

  • Introduce a digital media royalty framework to ensure that Canadian media outlets are fairly compensated for the sharing of their content by platforms like Google and Facebook.
  • It will:
    • Adopt a made in Canada approach that incorporates the best practices of jurisdictions like Australia and France.
    • Include a robust arbitration process and the creation of an intellectual property right for article extracts shared on a social media platform.
    • Ensure that smaller media outlets are included, and that the government won’t be able to pick and choose who has access to the royalty framework.
    • Introduce a Digital Services Tax representing 3% of gross revenue in Canada to make web giants pay their fair share.
    • Significantly reduce the amount of money the government is spending on advertising with big foreign tech companies like Twitter and instead direct federal ad dollars to Canadian media, including community weeklies, regional media, and ethnic media.
    • Recognize and correct the adverse economic impact for creators and publishers from the uncompensated use of their works in a manner consistent with the unanimous recommendations of the Heritage Committee of the House of Commons Report in 2019.
    • End Trudeau’s $600 million media bailout. While we support Canadian media outlets, they should not be directly receiving tax dollars. Government funding of “approved” media undermines press freedom, a vital part of a free society.

Media industry cautiously optimistic the government will soon force digital giants to pay for their content (Toronto Star) 

With a federal election now underway, News Media Canada is carefully watching each of the party platforms for commitments they will be making to ensure a level playing field for publishers.

In addition to the post above, we note that NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has also endorsed the Australian model, which is the most popular option in the media industry today. His comments begin at the 16:25 mark.

As this article explains, the Australian approach would see big tech companies forced to make deals with news organizations and pay a percentage of certain costs, negotiated under the watchful eye of an arbitrator.