The Trudeau Government presents an initiative to force the giants of the web to compensate the media | International

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the press in Parliament on March 31.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the press in Parliament on March 31.BLAIR GABLE (REUTERS)

The Government of Justin Trudeau presented this Tuesday, before the Lower House, a project so that the big internet players pay the media amounts in a more balanced way for disseminating their information content. “We need a dynamic and healthy news ecosystem more than ever. As we all know, the sector is in crisis”, declared Pablo Rodríguez, Federal Minister of Heritage and main promoter of the initiative, at a press conference. Rodríguez pointed out that, through this project, “the giants of the web are going to have to render accounts and contribute in favor of equity, independence and freedom of the press to strengthen our democracy.”

The parliamentary proposal -in its current form- is mainly focused on Facebook and Google, and is inspired by the framework approved by Australia in 2021. Said regulation serves to compensate the advertising revenue that the media fails to receive and that falls on social networks. social and other platforms. According to data from the federal Ministry of Heritage, some 450 media outlets have had to close in Canada since 2008. Online advertising generated revenue in 2020 of about 9.7 billion Canadian dollars (about 7.75 billion US dollars) in the North American country; Google and Facebook pocketed a combined 80% of the total.

The initiative contemplates that the Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Council of Canada (CRTC for its acronym in English) take the reins of this process. The platforms will be able to negotiate with the media, for a maximum of 12 months and on a voluntary basis, agreements that take into account criteria imposed by the CRTC, such as the amounts to ensure independence and freedom of expression, as well as the support The production of local and national news with an inclusive character for the different groups of the population. In case of not reaching agreements or not complying with the established criteria, the CRTC will establish mandatory negotiations and, in the last case, may act as an arbitrator to select the most convenient proposal. The media have the power to negotiate individually or collectively with the platforms.

In the last two years, Facebook has signed agreements with 18 Canadian media outlets regarding advertising sharing (newspapers The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star are two of them). For its part, Google signed agreements with 11. The amounts and details of these agreements are confidential. However, the initiative of the liberal government opens the door to submit them to review. Pablo Rodríguez stressed that a fundamental issue of this legislative project “is transparency.”

“The work of journalists has a value,” Rodríguez said. If the initiative becomes law, not only large newsrooms would benefit; Any media registered in the tax registry as a journalistic organization and that has at least two employees could apply. In a statement sent to the CBC network, Google said it is carefully reviewing the legislative proposal to understand its implications.

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