Rushing solutions makes problems worse
About a month ago, I wrote about Bill C-18, “An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada.”
C-18 requires online companies like Facebook and Google to pay eligible Canadian media organizations when a link to their online content is shared on these platforms. Currently, most media organizations sell their own online ads, so the added traffic from links on platforms like Facebook and Google actually helps to increase their ad revenue.
Facebook, Instagram, and Google opposed the idea of paying for news links shared by their users and threatened to ban news link sharing if this bill became law.
As I stated in May, a government can have the best intentions, but it may make the problem worse when it rushes toward quick solutions. This is why my Conservative colleagues have vehemently opposed this bill.
Last week, Bill C-18 received Royal Assent and became law. As most stakeholders and experts predicted, Facebook and Instagram announced that they are permanently ending the availability of news in Canada on their online platforms.
This will be a devastating policy for the many media organizations that depend on Facebook and other platforms to drive significant traffic to their online news websites, where they benefit from digital ad sales and sometimes paywall access. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has stated that Bill C-18 is so fundamentally flawed that there is no room for a negotiated solution.
The Trudeau Liberal government has recognized the serious miscalculation of their new law and has recently gone on record as stating that newsrooms will be supported should Meta or Google block their news links. This means that taxpayers could potentially be forced to subsidize the error from the Trudeau Liberal government.
Worse, by increasing subsidies for news organizations, only government-approved media sources would receive this funding, which primarily benefits large legacy media companies. This would exclude small, independent, and start-up media who either do not qualify or support this funding because they believe subsidies create dependency and infringe upon their credibility as independent media.
For the record, our official Conservative opposition remain opposed to this new Trudeau Liberal law that was passed, with the support of the NDP.
My question to you this week:
What do you think of Bill C-18 now that it has become law?
Contact me at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.