Canadian Heritage Minister Undeterred by Tech Giants’ Opposition to Online News Act

The Online News Act, known as Bill C-18 in Parliament, was passed into Canadian law last week, mandating tech behemoths such as Meta and Google to strike deals that remunerate media outlets for the news content shared or repurposed on their platforms. Despite staunch resistance from these tech companies, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez affirmed that the legislation is crucial for the survival of newsrooms grappling to secure online ad revenues.

Meta announced its intention to comply with the new legislation by excluding news content from Facebook and Instagram before the law becomes effective November 1. Google considered a similar course of action as the passing of Bill C-18 drew near, but an impromptu meeting with Rodriguez resulted in a delay in the company’s decision. Google reportedly reached out to Rodriguez aggressively to express its dissatisfaction with the law.

Rodriguez dismissed the portrayal of the meeting as a last-minute attempt at cooperation, stating that he usually meets stakeholders when a bill is introduced and again when it is passed, adding that his department had interacted with Google several times in this process. He was steadfast in his belief that Google, due to its dominance in the online ad space, would be subject to the law.

According to Rodriguez, Google raised several questions seeking more clarity and certainty about the legislation, which he acknowledged as a legitimate business concern. He said that often the required clarity emerges only at the end of the process, after the bill has been adopted and implemented.

The minister did not specify how his government would ensure that newsrooms would continue to receive resources beyond existing measures such as funding programs for magazines, newspapers, and local journalism, as well as tax credits. However, he stressed that every possible option is being considered should Meta and Google decide to block news, as it is imperative that newsrooms remain functional and journalists have the necessary resources to do their job.

Rodriguez highlighted that the Online News Act is one of the two bills passed by the Liberals this year that introduce new government oversight over digital platforms. The other legislation, the Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11), mandates platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok to contribute to and promote Canadian content.

Information for this story was found via Yahoo News. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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