Canadians stuck in the middle of the standoff over news content online

Canadians stuck in the middle of the standoff over news content online

By Shachi Kurl, President

In the worsening game of chicken between the federal government and big tech over Bill C-18, it may be useful to better understand what Canadians news consumers themselves think. The problem is that their own conflicting views over the issue do not indicate a clear path forward.

To recap: Parliament passed C-18, also known as the Online News Act, on June 22. Traditional sources of revenue for mainstream news organizations have evaporated over 20 years of increasing digital-only news consumption that media outlets offered consumers largely for free. The intention of the law is to force technology companies Meta (which owns Facebook) and Google to pay Canadian news organizations for the original reporting content that is shared on their massive platforms.

But you know what they say about intentions. In response, both Meta and Google, who do not wish to be forced into such arrangements, have doubled down, saying that when the law takes effect in six months, they will move to block the sharing of Canadian news from their sites.

Come winter, this could create scenarios where searching Google News for, say, news reports about foreign election interference, or inflation, or how your long-suffering home team is faring, will yield absolutely no Canadian-originated or sourced information. Are you someone who likes to link to Canadian news on your Facebook feed to share with friends? Or someone who looks for the Canadian news your friends are sharing on Facebook? You’ll be out of luck too.

New data, soon to be released by the Angus Reid Institute, will reveal just how consequential losing access to Canadian news via those tech titans would be.

Read more from the article in the Ottawa Citizen here.

Image – Adam Scotti/PMO