General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsBroadcasters share of Online News Act funding to be capped at 30...

Broadcasters share of Online News Act funding to be capped at 30 per cent

Broadcasters will receive a maximum 30% of monetary agreements reached with digital platforms under the Online News Act, with CBC/Radio-Canada’s share of the funding to be capped at seven per cent.

With the Online News Act set to take effect on Dec. 19, initiating a 180-day countdown clock for eligible platforms to reach agreements with news organizations, Canadian Heritage held a technical briefing Friday morning outlining the Act’s final regulations.

A Canadian Heritage spokesperson said the caps set for BDUs and CBC/Radio-Canada were determined by looking at the current dynamics of the marketplace, including the number of journalists employed by organizations and a desire to avoid deviating from the Act’s core objectives to strengthen the bargaining position of news businesses reliant on digital platforms for distribution, which is most pronounced in the print media sector.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), which is in the process of forming a collective to represent Canada’s private broadcasters in Online News Act negotiations, said it’s disappointed that the regulations “do not reflect the significant role private broadcasters of all sizes play in the Canadian news marketplace.”

“The Online News Act is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the critical mission of supporting news in this country,” said CAB President Kevin Desjardins, in a statement. “There needs to be more urgent action taken to support broadcast news if we are to have a healthy journalism ecosystem that can continue to adequately keep Canadians informed.”

The CAB says commercial radio and TV stations, while being Canadians’ largest source for news, continue to be overlooked for critical supports for the news sector, including the Canadian journalism labour tax credit. The association went further to state that Canadian Heritage’s division of funds “do not align with each sector’s respective investment in news, nor with Canadians’ patterns of consumption,” citing Communications Management Inc. data indicating that private TV broadcasters are the largest financial contributors to news.

“All news organizations, regardless of their origin, now exist in an online, multimedia universe,” said Desjardins. “Canada’s private broadcasters need equitable supports to continue to provide important, fact-based reporting that is trusted by the communities they serve.”

Image Credit: Alamy

CBC/Radio-Canada released a statement of its own saying it’s important that the regulations recognize that news provided by the public broadcaster should also receive compensation.

“We know that one law or set of regulations won’t solve all of the challenges facing the news business in Canada. But it will help,” the public broadcaster stated.

Thus far, Google is the only digital platform identified under the Act, expected to meet the regulatory thresholds of $1B in annual revenue and an average of 20 million unique Canadian visitors per month or 20 million active users in Canada monthly. Google has already negotiated an agreement to meet its obligations, contributing $100 million in financial support annually, indexed to inflation.

Canadian Heritage said the CRTC will soon launch consultations on administering the act, including how to request an exemption, with potential leeway for platforms to negotiate non-monetary contributions. The government expects Google to launch its open call process early in the New Year, with agreements with news organizations to be in place by mid-2024.

A Heritage spokesperson indicated that at this juncture, Meta continues to stand by a global policy decision not to participate in any framework supporting news – essentially exempting itself from the Act – going so far as to give notice it’s terminating licence agreements in European jurisdictions, including the UK, Germany and France.

Platforms that don’t comply could be subject to administrative penalties, as determined by the CRTC, with the legislation setting out maximum fines of $10 million for a first offence and $50 million for each subsequent failure to comply.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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