General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsRegulatory, Telecom & Media News - Canadian Heritage clarifies Online News Act...

Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Canadian Heritage clarifies Online News Act exemptions

Canadian Heritage has provided more clarity on which platforms will be subject to the Online News Act and what they will need to do to be exempted from the mandatory bargaining process. Set to go into effect Dec. 19, ahead of a public consultation process that will get underway this fall, the Act will only apply to digital platforms providing news content with total global revenue of more than $1 billion a year, with 20 million or more Canadian average monthly unique visitors or active users. According to Canadian Heritage, the bargaining process with search engines and platforms like Google, Meta and Bing, should result in approximately $230 million a year made available to support news organizations. Based on government estimates, made without the benefit of published market data from digital operators, Google would stand to contribute about $172 million a year, under the government formula, followed by Facebook at $62 million. Read more here.

CRTCThe CRTC is immediately lifting advertising time limit requirements for discretionary television services to position them to better compete with online platforms. The move is in response to a 2020 application from Quebecor Media, on behalf of TVA Group, asking for the removal of the advertising time limit of 12 minutes per clock hour on its discretionary services. The commission moved to lift time limits for conventional services in 2007. TVA argued that with only discretionary services subject to an advertising time limit, foreign online platforms are unduly benefitting as they capture a growing share of advertising revenues. TVA’s application suggested removing the limit for discretionary services would help restore healthier competition, specifically in the French-language market, while injecting ad revenue back into the Canadian broadcasting ecosystem. Read more here.

The CRTC has denied a request by a number of cable providers seeking to have the basic channel package price increased and a yearly inflation mechanism introduced. The application, by Bell, Cogeco Communications, Eastlink, and SaskTel, sought to increase the maximum retail price of the basic service from $25 to $28 per month, with further increases tied to the annual rate of inflation. Among the other groups in support of the application were Access Communications Co-operative, Canadian Communication Systems Alliance (CCSA), Pelmorex Weather Networks, Corus Entertainment, and Rogers Communications. The commission, which mandated licensed broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) to provide customers with an affordable entry-level basic service in 2016, said in Tuesday’s decision that the applicants did not submit evidence to suggest that the current maximum rate of $25 is no longer economically viable for them as retailers. The CRTC said given the high inflation rates currently being experienced, the need to maintain the $25 price cap is greater than ever. Read more here.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has released two decisions upholding viewer complaints about incomplete and inaccurate information broadcast on CTV investigative program, W5, and CFRA Ottawa talk show, The Vassy Kapelos Show. In both cases, the CBSC determined the broadcaster had not provided a full, fair and accurate presentation of facts, and had not corrected the errors, contrary to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Journalistic Ethics. Read more here.

Stephanie Villella

Stephanie Villella, the CTV Kitchener reporter struck by a vehicle earlier this year while on assignment, has filed a $15.7 million suit. Villella is seeking restitution from the 92-year-old driver who hit her, Guelph Police Department, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and the Province of Ontario alleging Guelph PD failed to properly secure the road and direct traffic. The suit argues that the province and OPP are liable for the officer’s negligence. The statement of claim says Villella’s injuries include a severe traumatic brain injury, facial fractures and lacerations.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist; Le Devoir publisher Brian Myles; digital innovator Tai Huynh; Natalie Campbell, senior director of North American government and regulatory affairs at The Internet Society; Winnipeg Free Press editor Paul Samyn; and moderator Mary Lynn Young of the University of British Columbia will take part in an online discussion of the Online News Act (Bill C-18) on Sept. 20.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation’s (CJF) J-Talks Live series kicks off the 2023/24 season on Sept. 20 (1 p.m. ET) with an exploration of the Online News Act’s impact on journalism and Canadian democracy. The virtual event will bring together experts in law, governance and journalism to discuss the context surrounding the controversial legislation and share insights into its implications for media organizations, innovators and consumers. The virtual discussion features University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist; Le Devoir publisher Brian Myles; digital innovator Tai Huynh, the founding editor-in-chief and publisher of The Local; Natalie Campbell, senior director of North American government and regulatory affairs at The Internet Society and Winnipeg Free Press editor Paul Samyn. Register free here.

Canadian Media Guild (CMG) members led this year’s Toronto and York Region Labour Day Parade in a show of solidarity for members on strike at TVO. About 74 journalists, producers and education workers at TVO have been on the picket line since Aug. 21. The Canadian Media Guild, Local 30213 of CWA-Canada, represents over 5,000 members across Canada, including employees at CBC/Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press and Pagemasters North America, Thomson Reuters, APTN, Buzzfeed, Islington Printing, TVO, TFO, Vice Media, ZoomerMedia, Canada’s National Observer, AFP and CKOF.

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