Canadian news industry aims for campaign to regulate Tech Giants to pay off big

A thorough investigation, published in Press Gazette, estimates that Australia-style regulation on companies such as Facebook and Google could be worth anywhere from $100-150 million.

For more than a year, News Media Canada has been calling on the federal government to implement legislation that will compel Facebook and Google to pay news publishers for the use of their content.

In October 2020, for example, News Media Canada sent the government a memorandum titled: “The Australian solution to the Google/Facebook problem: How to make it work in Canada.” In May this year, News Media Canada submitted a draft proposal for a “Digital Platforms Act”. 

Those submissions appear to have got the attention of the governing Liberals. In the recent election campaign, PM Justin Trudeau pledged to introduce Australian-style legislation within the first 100 days of being sworn in.

In the article, News Media Canada’s president and CEO Paul Deegan said that the nation’s largest publishers remain determined to push for legislation all its members – both big and small.

“They are still four-square behind collective negotiation,” he said. “Every single member that we have, even those who have signed [licensing deals], have said that ultimately one-offs may be good for a particular publisher, but the fact of the matter is Google and Facebook aren’t calling the little guys.

“There are tonnes of small publishers that are important to communities across the country, and if those publications go the way of the dodo bird, we’re going to wind up with these massive news deserts across the country.”

Google and Facebook, the duopoly of the digital advertising market, have taken much of the blame. According to a recent report from the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project, their share of the domestic digital ad market was 80% in 2019.