Six more Canadian publishers strike deals with Google, talks continue with others

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The government has promised that such voluntary agreements will not prevent them from rolling out legislation to force online platforms to compensate media for content.

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Google has entered into licensing agreements with six other Canadian news publishers, an announcement that follows a government consultation that suggests creating a CanCon news contribution system.

The Globe and Mail, Black Press Media, SaltWire Network, The Winnipeg Free Press, Glacier Media and MetroMedia join Google News Showcase, a program that pays publishers to curate and feature stories that appear in Google news products .

Two other publishers, Village Media and Narcity, had already signed up for the program.

The company said it is in talks with other publishers and hopes to launch Google News Showcase in Canada “soon”.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has promised that such voluntary licensing agreements will not prevent the Liberal government from rolling out legislation to force online platforms to compensate media for content. The government has offered two options – the Australian model which imposes trading rules for publishers and online platforms, and a broadcast-like system in which cable companies must capitalize on Canadian content.

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Heritage Canada consulted stakeholders and experts this spring. The consultation was not public, but the National Post obtained a copy of the questionnaire sent to one of the participants.

  1. Facebook's voluntary move comes as the Liberal government prepares to overhaul the way big tech works in Canada.

    Facebook to pay 14 Canadian media outlets for content, but deal excludes major publishers

  2. Google can approach publishers individually, so the larger media outlets in Canada will likely be approached later, said John Hinds of News Media Canada.

    Google sets aside billion dollars for news, but only small Canadian publishers have signed on

He asks what participants think of a “financing plan that would require mandatory financial contributions from online platforms”.

“In the same way that cable operators (cable and satellite companies) are required to contribute to Canadian content through the broadcasting regulatory framework, platforms would be required to contribute financially to news, as a percentage of their total Canadian revenues payable. to an independent body. fund, ”suggests the document.

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Currently, television service providers pay at least five percent of their revenues for the creation of Canadian content.

“These financial contributions would be structured to encourage online platforms to seek new ways to support Canadian news and a healthy information ecosystem,” the Heritage document said.

Guilbeault said earlier this year that he was pushing to table the bill in the spring. Given that the parliamentary session ended on Wednesday, it could now be introduced no earlier than September, although the return of parliament could be anticipated by an election.

Daniel Bernhard, executive director of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting advocacy group, said Google’s announcement is an indication the government has taken too long.

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“These companies are moving into the space left vacant by government inaction,” he said in an interview. “The publishers have waited and waited” and now they have “started to make deals on their own”.

“They took it in hand. And now Facebook and Google are setting the terms for Parliament Square in Canada, ”said Bernhard.

Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault.
Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault. Photo by Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press / File

In May, Facebook announced an agreement with 14 Canadian publishers to pay for certain reporting.

Guilbeault said in a statement Wednesday that “one-off initiatives, such as those offered by digital platforms, will not be enough” to address the market imbalance between “between news media and those who benefit from their work.”

“A more lasting solution is needed to protect our democracy while leveling the playing field for everyone,” Guilbeault said.

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Sabrina Geremia, vice president and national director of Google Canada, said the deal with Canadian publishers will cover 70 newsrooms and add to other commitments, including digital skills training for 5,000 Canadian journalists and workshops for small and medium-sized press organizations.

“We really want to support the sustainability of information in Canada,” she said, adding that partnerships with publishers “are helping them now, when it’s more important than ever.”

Geramia said the company participated in the government consultation, but declined to answer a question about what Google thinks possible compensation for news publishers should look like.

The consultation document says the government has chosen not to follow the French information compensation model, which is based on copyright law. A copyright-based approach to remuneration for information has been proposed to the Senate.

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Guilbeault said Canada will need to come up with its own model that takes into account Canadian regulatory frameworks.

Talking points prepared for then Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains, ahead of a meeting last year with CEOs and editors of major Canadian newspapers, provide some insight into why the government may have be opted against a copyright approach.

“Please understand that the idea of ​​a new neighboring right in copyright law is a huge effort and its implementation would take many years,” says the briefing note, obtained through access to information.

Guilbeault said Canada had discussed their approaches with France and Australia.

“Only a few countries have yet addressed the issue of fair compensation, when it is precisely its global nature that should call us to act. International collaboration will therefore be essential if we want to maximize the impact of our individual actions, ”said Guilbeault.

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