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News Media Canada issues proposal to government regarding Google, Facebook

News Media Canada has issued a proposal to the Government of Canada on behalf of Canadian publishers to counter what it describes as the “monopolistic practices” of Google and Facebook. The organization urges Parliament to adopt the approach to these companies taken by the Government of Australia. According to the group, this model “levels the digital playing field” by allowing publishers, with the approval of government, to form a collective bargaining unit to negotiate compensation for the use of their content and intellectual property by these companies. It also recommends the drafting of a code of conduct to ensure that the web monopolies do not use new algorithms or other methods to expand their market and “entrench unfair competitive practices.”

Under this model, large online companies would be subject to fines of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for a single infraction. According to the organization, in Canada, Google and Facebook control 80% of all online advertising revenues, gained by diverting advertising from news media publishers. This proposal is intended to address this issue. The proposal is based on a report prepared by FTI Consulting.

According to the organization, discussions with the government are being conducted by the CEOs of member companies including Glacier Media, Black Press, Torstar, Postmedia, Globe and Mail, La Presse, Quebecor and Brunswick News.

“A strong, diverse and independent news media is valued by Canadians and crucial to our democracy,” said Jamie Irving, chair of News Media Canada’s working group. “Publishing real news costs money, and Google and Facebook, two of the biggest companies in the world, cannot continue to be allowed to free-ride on the backs of Canadian news media publishers who produce news content without fair compensation. We have heard the global web giants' hollow commitment to journalism and to token compensation. The time to tackle the global web giants, as the federal government indicated in September, is now.”

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