• The Low Down

David versus two Goliaths

Last month, Canada’s news media publishers applauded the Government of Canada for standing up to giant internet companies in its fiscal update, and renewed their call for the government to take action to level the playing field for Canada’s local newspapers in dealing with the Google and Facebook monopoly.


“The government is taking an important step in applying the same tax rules to these U.S.- based web giants that all other companies operating in Canada must obey,” said Jamie Irving, vice-president of Brunswick News Publishing company BNI and chair of News Media Canada’s working group.


“We renew our call to them – and all parties in Parliament – to take the next step and adopt the Australian solution – outlined in our October report, “Levelling the Digital Playing Field” – to curb Facebook and Google’s monopoly abuses against local news.”

The News Media Canada report details the way in which Google and Facebook use their monopoly powers in Canada to scoop up 80 per cent of online advertising revenues and to distribute newspaper content without compensation. The government in Australia – with support from all parties in parliament – is putting in place a comprehensive solution that resolves the same problems — without resorting to tax increases or user fees. Canadian publishers are calling for the same solution.

Canada’s news publishers pointed to an alarming new U.S. Senate report to illustrate the urgency of the situation for local news.


“Unless the government steps in to enforce fair competition, Google and Facebook will do in Canada what they’ve done in the U.S.,” said Irving. “In October, while we were issuing our report, the U.S. Senate also issued its own report describing how the two companies – using the exact same tactics that they use in Canada – have helped put more than 2,000 local newspapers – more than a quarter of all papers published in the U.S. – out of business over the last 15 years, creating ‘news deserts’ across wide swaths of America.”


The Government of Canada announced in its speech from the throne of Sept. 23 that, “The government will act to ensure their revenue is shared more fairly with our creators and media, and will also require them to contribute to the creation, production and distribution of our stories, on screen, in lyrics, in music and in writing.”


News Media Canada is calling on the government to tackle the web giants and adopt the Australian model in Canada.


The CEO members of the following companies are leading the discussions with the Government of Canada including: Glacier Media, Black Press, Torstar, Postmedia, Globe and Mail, La Presse, Quebecor and Brunswick News.


John Hinds is the president of News Media Canada, the voice of the print and digital news media industry in Canada, representing hundreds of trusted titles in every province and territory.