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Montevideo, March 6th 2021 - 01:57 UTC

 

 

Canada determined to follow Australia and France, and make Facebook pay for news content

Friday, February 19th 2021 - 07:45 UTC
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Canadian media organizations said the Australian approach would permit publishers to recover C$620 million a year Canadian media organizations said the Australian approach would permit publishers to recover C$620 million a year

Canada is following Australia and vowed on Thursday to make Facebook Inc pay for news content, seeking allies in the media battle with tech giants and pledging not to back down if the social media platform shuts off the country's news.

Facebook blocked all Australian news content on its service over proposed legislation requiring it and Alphabet Inc's Google to pay fees to Australian publishers for news links.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, in charge of crafting similar legislation to be unveiled in coming months, condemned Facebook's action and said it would not deter Ottawa.

“Canada is at the forefront of this battle ... we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” he told reporters.

Last year, Canadian media organizations warned of a potential market failure without government action. They said the Australian approach would permit publishers to recover C$620 million a year. Without action, they warned, Canada would lose 700 print journalism jobs out of 3,100 total.

Mr Guilbeault said Canada could adopt the Australian model, which requires Facebook and Google to reach deals to pay news outlets whose links drive activity on their services, or agree on a price through binding arbitration.

Another option is to follow the example of France, which requires large tech platforms to open talks with publishers seeking remuneration for use of news content.

“We are working to see which model would be the most appropriate,” he said, adding he spoke last week to his French, Australian, German and Finnish counterparts about working together on ensuring fair compensation for web content.

“I suspect that soon we will have five, 10, 15 countries adopting similar rules ... is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France?” he asked, saying that at some point Facebook's approach would become “totally unsustainable”.

University of Toronto professor Megan Boler, who specializes in social media, said the Facebook action marked a turning point which would require a common international approach.

“We could actually see a coalition, a united front against this monopoly, which could be very powerful,” she said in a phone interview.

This week, Facebook said news makes up less than 4 per cent of content people see on the platform but contended that it helped Australian publishers generate about AU $407 million last year.

Google has signed 500 deals worth around US$1 billion over three years with publishers around the world for its new News Showcase service and is in talks with Canadian companies.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

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