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The Hub OpEd: The Online News Act is Flawed

OpEd | Sep 5, 2023

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In a compelling op-ed by The Hub, the Trudeau government's recent draft regulations for the Online News Act, Bill C-18, are scrutinized. The regulations aim to ensure tech giants like Google and Meta compensate Canadian news media organizations, but the underlying assumptions and approach of the legislation raise significant concerns.

The regulations, designed to clarify the implementation of the legislation, are based on flawed assumptions. They attempt to dictate the intricacies of business-to-business relationships, turning private companies into instruments of public policy. This has significant implications for policy outcomes, public accountability, and market functioning.

The government's stance is that challenges in journalism indicate a market failure requiring policy intervention. However, the Online News Act outsources the implementation of this policy to private platforms, determining which media organizations should receive financial support, which is a questionable approach.

See:  Are we headed towards Meta-Banking?

The proposed funding formula for supporting journalism is convoluted. It ties the compensation from tech giants to their global revenues and Canada's share of global GDP, rather than focusing on their Canadian revenues and the journalism sector's share of Canada's GDP. This approach seems to double the level of public subsidies to media organizations without a clear rationale.

While there's a genuine concern about supporting news journalism, especially at the local level, the current approach of the Online News Act is circuitous and flawed. A direct government intervention, transparent and accountable, might be a more effective solution to address the challenges faced by the journalism industry in Canada.

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