General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsFederal budget falls short on closing advertising loopholes, AI protections, say industry...

Federal budget falls short on closing advertising loopholes, AI protections, say industry groups

A cross-section of Canadian media advocacy and culture groups are taking issue with what was “missing” from last week’s federal budget, ranging from a lack of AI protections to allocating a bigger share of the federal advertising spend to local broadcasters.

Earlier this year, Stingray and a coalition of 20 independent broadcasters that included Central Ontario Broadcasting, Dougall Media, Durham Radio, Evanov Communications, Golden West Broadcasting, Pattison Media, and Vista Radio, appealed for a greater share of the $86M federal advertising spend to go to local media. Right now, more than 70% is spent with digital platforms, including foreign digital giants like Facebook, Instagram and Google.

Steve Jones

“The good news is that the federal budget, and the announcements in the weeks leading up to it, did reveal some important benefits to the media sector,” Stingray Radio President Steve Jones told Broadcast Dialogue. “The extension of the Local Journalism Initiative and continued investments in the Indigenous Screen Office, Telefilm Canada, and the Canada Music Fund are all positive, as is a new investment in public interest programming services.”

However, Jones says the budget “fell far short” of what the industry needs with no movement on the four key asks that independent broadcasters are seeking, including:

  • Eliminating the tax-deductibility of advertising purchased on foreign-owned, internet-delivered media sites and services, consistent with longstanding government policy.
  • Extending the Canadian journalism labour tax credit to broadcast news organizations.
  • Prioritizing and supporting Canadian-owned media by dedicating 70% of the Government of Canada’s advertising expenditures to local radio, TV, print, and Canadian-owned digital media.
  • Tying any increase in funding to CBC/Radio-Canada to the public broadcaster’s exit from the advertising market.

Friends of Canadian Media has also been lobbying for closure of the foreign advertising tax “loophole” that the media advocacy organization says continues to extract over $13 billion in advertising revenues from the Canadian economy every year. Updated figures from the not-for-profit suggest the exception’s impact has escalated in the intervening years since Friends initially raised the issue in 2017, going from garnering one-third of all Canadian advertising revenues to over two-thirds since the first study.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the national union of professional performers working in recorded media in Canada, also welcomed “positive steps” in the federal budget to support the creative sector, but expressed disappointment at a lack of “urgently needed artificial intelligence safeguards.”

Eleanor Noble

ACTRA is pleased the 2024 Budget includes much needed investment to support Canada’s entertainment industry, but performers are disappointed there is no commitment to ensure much needed AI protections for the livelihood and image of performers” said Eleanor NobleACTRA National President. “With the rise of AI and the proliferation of deep fakes, we need to see these issues tackled with more urgency.”

Meanwhile Hot Docs, which is getting set to kick off the 31st edition of its international documentary festival later this week, accused the federal government of picking “winners and losers in Canada’s cultural landscape.”

The organization issued an urgent appeal for support in March, but was left out of last week’s budget. TIFF is benefitting from $23M over three years, while the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake is earmarked for $15 million, among other cultural events receiving funding.

“The federal government did not include Hot Docs in its $38 million relief package for significant cultural institutions in Budget 2024, putting the future of the organization in jeopardy,” the organization wrote in a statement. “The federal government’s decision is putting the future of an important theatre and cultural hub at risk, despite ongoing calls for support from our community…Hot Docs has been vocal about the enormous post-pandemic challenges it faces and its urgent need for financial support from the Government of Canada. We will proudly deliver an exceptional festival that kicks off on April 25, but we fear it will be the last unless the federal government steps up to the plate.”

Issues could be addressed outside budget process

Steve Jones says he’s still hopeful some of the issues his group has raised will be addressed outside the budget process.

“It is worth noting that the federal budget isn’t the end of the road for these steps to strengthen Canadian media,” said Jones. “Some of these issues can be addressed outside of the budget process, including the Treasury Board amending its directive on communications to include our ask about prioritization of Canadian-owned media in the Government of Canada’s advertising expenditures. This is perhaps the most common sense and simple ask that we’ve made, and it would take no budget process or legislation to make it a reality.”

“We are also engaging in active discussions with government officials so that these things can be addressed in the Fall Economic Statement,” he added.

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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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