Google funds to the media, Blanchet: “A huge zero to CBC”

TORONTO – The Liberal government may take steps to limit the amount of money the CBC, Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster, will be able to raise under a new revenue-sharing agreement that Google collects from Canadian media’s journalistic content. 

The agreement, as is known, provides that Google will provide up to 100 million dollars a year to Canadian newspapers whose contents are present on the web giant’s sites, with each newspaper’s share of the pie depending on the number of full-time journalists they employ. Under the draft regulations set out in the Online News Act, which will govern the agreement, CBC/Radio-Canada would currently have the largest share, as they employ a third of the journalism workforce in Canada. The problem is that CBC already receives significant public funding from the Canadian federal government. In short, “it never rains, it pours”, with the small Canadian media – already in great financial difficulty – who would find themselves collecting only the crumbs of those 100 million dollars.

“I don’t think CBC/Radio-Canada should start with a third of the ‘pie,’ so we will address this in the final regulations that will be published shortly before the law comes into force” said Pascale St-Onge, federal minister of Heritage.

Both the opposition and the Bloc Québécois have been critical of how much CBC/Radio-Canada stands to collect from the deal – up to $33 million a year, according to Conservative MP Rachael Thomas. “The local media will receive very little, and perhaps nothing. This bill has killed them,” said Thomas, who sits on the parliamentary Heritage Committee. “There will be less choice for Canadians and less access to news,” she added.

Bloc Québécois Leader, Yves-François Blanchet, highlighted the revenues that CBC/Radio-Canada already receives: nearly $1.3 billion in the last fiscal year from government funding, plus advertising and subscriptions. “After careful calculation I arrived at a huge zero” Blanchet said after being asked how much CBC/Radio-Canada should receive from the Google deal. “I think this money should be reserved for private media in order to support, strengthen and improve coverage and representation of local and original news across Quebec and Canada”.

Quebec’s Minister of Culture and Communications also called on Ottawa to exclude CBC/Radio-Canada from the Google ‘pie’.

“I am fully aware of the dynamics and difficulties of our media in the private market and we will take this into account in the final regulation” St-Onge said.

Details of Ottawa’s agreement with Google will be made public when the final regulations for the Online News Act are published before the law comes into force on December 19. We’ll see.

In the pic above, Federal Minister of Heritage, Pascale St-Onge (from X – @PascaleStOnge_)