The CRTC has shared its plan for implementing Bill C-18, the Online News Act, starting with the launch of public consultations this fall.
The federal government allocated $8.5 million in the 2022 budget to develop a regime if the Act – intended to promote voluntary compensation agreements between digital platforms like Google and Facebook, and news outlets for linking back to their content – became law.
Industry representatives, affected parties and the public will be invited to comment on how the bargaining and arbitration process with news outlets will work; the eligibility process for news organizations; a potential code of conduct to support fair negotiations; and the range of data the CRTC should be compelled to collect under the Act. The commission says those comments will help inform the bargaining framework and subsequently the CRTC’s decision.
As part of the consultation process, the CRTC will also issue a call for proposals for an independent auditor, who will prepare an annual report on the impact of the Act on Canada’s digital news marketplace.
The commission says it will publish the framework and code of conduct next summer and recruit independent arbitrators to begin considering applications for eligibility from news organizations. Mandatory bargaining is anticipated to begin in late 2024 or early 2025.
The commission’s outline comes as Meta’s move to block news content for Canadian users on its Facebook and Instagram platforms, in response to passage of Bill C-18, comes up on the one-month mark.
CBC President & CEO Catherine Tait wrote an appeal to Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg this week calling on the digital giant to exempt users in communities in Canada’s North, currently under wildfire evacuation orders and in need of easy access to critical updates.
“As we saw during the pandemic, extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures in order to protect lives,” wrote Tait. “Time is of the essence. I urge you to consider taking the much-needed humanitarian action and immediately lift your ban on vital Canadian news and information to communities dealing with this wildfire emergency.”
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