• Facebook-parent Meta Platforms Inc said that it would end availability of news content for Canadians on its platforms if the country’s Online News Act passes in its current form.
• The ‘Online News Act’, or House of Commons bill C-18, introduced in April 2022 laid out rules to force platforms like Meta and Alphabet Inc’s Google to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content.
• Canada’s proposal is similar to the ‘News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code’ that Australia passed in 2021, which too triggered threats from Google and Facebook to curtail their services. Both eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after a series of amendments to the legislation were offered.
• The legislation is intended to encourage Internet giants to pay regional news publishers for the content that appears on their platforms.
• In December 2022, the New Zealand government said it will introduce a law that will require big online digital companies to pay media companies for the local news content that appears on their feeds.
• Meta’s move comes after Google last month started testing limited news censorship as a potential response to the Bill in Canada.
• Canada’s news media industry has asked the government for more regulation of tech companies to allow the industry to recoup financial losses it has suffered in the years as tech giants like Google and Meta steadily gain greater market share of advertising.
Online News Act in Canada
Digital platforms have come to play an integral role in Canada’s news ecosystem, shifting the way Canadians access news content.
• Ensures fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets.
• Provides for collective bargaining by news outlets.
• Promotes voluntary commercial agreements between digital platforms and news outlets, with minimal government intervention.
• Defines the role and tools of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as the regulator.
Once implemented, the Online News Act is expected to result in:
• A flexible regulatory framework that facilitates fair business relationships between digital platforms and news outlets.
• Sustainability in the Canadian news ecosystem, including the sustainability of local news.
• The maintenance of press independence and market innovation online.
• Diversity within the Canadian news landscape.