Canada passes new act to ensure fair share of revenue among internet giants, news publishers

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Following the footsteps of Australia and some European countries, Canada passed a new act called 'Online News Act' to ensure revenue sharing among internet giants like Google and Facebook and online news media platforms.

"Digital platforms have come to play an integral role in Canada’s news ecosystem, shifting the way Canadians access news content that is vital to democracy. They can play an important role in supporting the production of trusted news and information," Canada said in the act.

The benefits of the act:

  • ensures fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets
  • provides for collective bargaining by news outlets
  • promotes voluntary commercial agreements between digital platforms and news outlets, with minimal government intervention
  • as a last resort, establishes a mandatory arbitration framework where digital platforms and news outlets cannot reach commercial agreements
  • defines the role and tools of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as the regulator
"Canadians need access to news and information on matters of public importance... However, the health of the Canadian news and information ecosystem is at risk. At least one-third of Canadian journalism jobs have disappeared since 2010, and many Canadian news media businesses are shrinking, having to cut costs and jobs, and even closing altogether... Canadians are increasingly accessing news online via digital platforms... The concentration of online advertising has resulted in 80% of advertising revenues going to a small number of platforms. Digital platforms benefit from the sharing of news content on their platforms, both directly (advertising near news) and indirectly (user engagement, data refinement, subsequent targeted advertising). Similarly, news outlets benefit from the sharing and exposure digital platforms provide to their content... However, in the absence of regulatory oversight, it is difficult to determine whether agreements made on a voluntary basis meet the goals of a sustainable, fair and diverse news and information ecosystem for Canadians and the full protection of an independent, free press,",the campaigners for fair revenue share said.

Similarly, Indian organisation Digital News Publishers Association has approached the Competition Commission against Google. The law may strengthen the move of DNPA.

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