With tech giants such as Google and Facebook having a large presence in the digital landscape, most people end up receiving their news from these tech giants. With this state of affairs, they were able to create a parasitic relationship with local newspapers.
They are able to use stories from hundreds of different papers in exchange for the revenue they make from advertisements. This results in tech giants getting to take home the majority of revenue from advertisements where as the local newspapers have to split the remaining revenue between all of themselves. The Canadian government is trying to resolve this issue with Bill C-18.
“That’s a piece of legislation with a whole lot of parts in it,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields. “One is working at fair remuneration to media and I think that there is a place where we need to talk about remuneration. I think in the last piece of legislation, in its format, there was some discussion of that and there have been some other countries that have come to some kind of arrangement for revenue generation to a particular media.”
Shields also touched on some issues with the bill that he sees.
"There’s more problems with this piece of legislation though. When they start talking about bureaucrats deciding which parts of social media should be promoted and watched versus other. Also in the sense of bureaucrats deciding whether to censorship of their people who doing the censorship. There is a whole range of issues and I think the government has now stepped back a bit and are taking a look. I think they established a committee to review some of it outside of the legislation before they bring it back and talk about it more.”
Shields also stated the Canadian government should take more action than just passing legislation. By actually advertising within local newspapers, the government can circumnavigate some of the problems of tech giants unfairly paying local newspapers.
“I support usually weekly newspapers because that’s what’s in this riding and what I support is the federal government doing the advertisement in weekly newspapers instead of on the international media platforms,” Shields said. “Why is the federal government sending taxpayers money to international media platforms outside of Canada for advertising for in Canada? This money should be spent on the newspapers inside of Canada rather than going after those ones to get money from them to pay back to those media plat- forms. Let’s just use the taxpayer’s money and do the advertising internally. For example, in the Bow River riding there’s the Taber Times and weekly papers — instead of spending it outside in the international media platforms.”
Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times