Ottawa needs to help level playing field between Canadian media and big tech: Forum

OTTAWA- The Public Policy Forum says “urgent” action is needed from the Canadian government to level the playing field between news media and tech giants such as Meta and Google amid broad revenue declines in the media industry.

In a new report titled “The Shattered Mirror: 5 Years On,” the organization emphasizes the need to support public-interest, fact-based journalism, which it calls an essential part of democracy.

It cites News Media Canada data on the decline of advertising revenue for community newspapers, where almost 300 local Canadian papers either shuttered or merged with other publications in the decade from 2011 to 2020.

“We can no longer ignore how vulnerable our local and regional news outlets are to Google and Meta,” Katie Davey, editor of PPF Media and policy lead at the Public Policy Forum said in a news release.

The report recommends implementing the model used in Australia, where the government passed laws that would make digital giants help cover the costs of journalism.

Other recommendations include enhancing the Local Journalism Initiative, Canada’s $50 million program launched by the federal government in 2019 aimed at helping news outlets hire reporters to cover underserved communities.

This report comes five years after the Public Policy Forum’s original “Shattered Mirror” report, which delved into the key issues facing Canada’s journalism industry.

That initial report had 12 recommendations.

There has been movement on at least six of those recommendations in some way, including the suggestion to establish a fund to support local journalism similar to what the BBC has been doing across the pond and the application of GST/HST to foreign digital services.

While the authors of the report are encouraged by greater innovation in policy solutions and are optimistic about a fresh generation of news entrepreneurs, they say support for Canadian news and media is ultimately still not where it needs to be.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2022. The Canadian Press has a contract with News Media Canada to provide editorial oversight and distribution of the LJI content, but CP does not assign or edit the stories.  Turtle Island News, which is located at Six Nations of the Grand River does not receive LJI funding which focuses on off-reserve media.

 

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