Canada plans to force Facebook and Google to share revenue with local media

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Canada on Tuesday presented details of a bill that would force platforms like Facebook and Google to negotiate trade deals and pay news publishers for their content, in a move similar to Australia’s groundbreaking law passed last year. last.

“Canada’s information sector is in crisis,” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said at a news conference, introducing the bill introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, reports Reuters.

The “Online News Act”, or House of Commons Bill C-18, will require digital platforms to have a trading imbalance, measured by metrics such as a company’s global revenue, with news organizations to make fair deals, which would then be assessed by a regulator.

If such transactions do not meet a set of criteria detailed in the law, the platforms would have to go through mandatory negotiation and final offer arbitration processes overseen by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

The law would work similarly to the one in Australia, which required Google-owned Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Meta Platforms to pay media companies for content on their platforms under reforms that have been announced as a model to be copied by others.

Canada’s news media industry has lobbied Facebook and called on the government to regulate tech companies more, to allow the industry to recoup the financial losses it suffered over the years that Facebook and Google have steadily gained larger advertising market shares.

More than 450 media outlets in Canada have closed since 2008, including 64 in the past two years.

Facebook and Google have voluntarily agreed to invest approximately C$1 billion each, over three years, in global journalism initiatives. Rodriguez said the government has had discussions with both companies.

“They were open to the regulations…these conversations were very frank, honest and enjoyable,” he said.

Google and Facebook, in separate statements, said they were reviewing the bill and looked forward to working with the government.

The legislation would cover news companies operating in Canada, including newspapers and newsmagazines with a digital presence, and allow them to negotiate individually as well as in groups.

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