(Quebec) The Legault government is asking Ottawa to exclude CBC/Radio-Canada from the royalties that Google will pay to Canadian media in accordance with the agreement reached with the federal government under the Online News Act (“Bill C- 18″). Minister Mathieu Lacombe also believes that the state-owned company should completely withdraw from the advertising market.

In an interview with La Presse on Thursday, the Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, gave his support to the repeated demands of the big boss of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Péladeau, who wants CBC/Radio-Canada to stop broadcasting advertising in the context of the media crisis.

“I am one of those who think that Radio-Canada television should do the same thing as Radio-Canada radio, that is to say leave the advertising market to the players who need it, that is -say private companies […] which must do their work without counting on an annual subsidy,” he said bluntly.

“While Radio-Canada is fortunate to have a new state-of-the-art head office in downtown Montreal, two blocks away, TVA is forced to put its head office up for sale because she no longer has the means to keep it. If only that, it illustrates the difference between Radio-Canada and other media,” added the minister who has already worked for the public broadcaster as a journalist and for TVA as anchor.

Earlier Thursday, Mr. Lacombe also said that the agreement between Ottawa and the American web giant was “good news” and “a step in the right direction to support our local media”. However, the Quebec government estimates that this sum of 100 million per year, which will be indexed to inflation, must be paid to “private media which lose advertising revenue”.

“I think Radio-Canada should be excluded from this revenue sharing,” he said in the context where the public broadcaster already receives more than $1 billion in federal funding.

“In a context where private media are struggling and depend almost exclusively in many cases on advertising revenue, which has melted like snow in the sun due to the web giants, we believe that the sums should be shared between private media,” said he insisted.

Mr. Lacombe also clarified that Télé-Québec, subsidized by the provincial government, would not withdraw from the advertising market. “It is certain that Télé-Québec is not subsidized to the same extent as Radio-Canada. That’s a completely different question for me,” he said.

According to the Minister of Culture, “Quebec must have a say in how revenues will be shared [because] for the moment, the federal government is going it alone as if culture and communications were its responsibility.”

“Whatever Ottawa thinks, Quebec culture and media must be governed in Quebec and, whatever initiatives are taken in Ottawa, they must be in consultation with Quebec,” the minister said Thursday.

The agreement concluded between Ottawa and Google provides for a sum of 100 million per year, an amount well below the 172 million which had been estimated by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Instead of negotiating piecemeal agreements, Google will be able to pay this sum to a collective which will distribute it to eligible news media, “according to their number of full-time equivalents in journalism,” indicates the press release published by the Ministry of Heritage. canadian. The share that each media will receive remains to be determined.

Canada also reserves the right to reopen the agreement if there are better agreements concluded elsewhere in the world.

In Ottawa, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, called on Minister Mathieu Lacombe to be patient. The regulatory framework, which will provide details on sharing the envelope, must be published before December 19, the date the law comes into force. It is in the final stages of development.

“I think it’s a bad message to say that content produced by a public broadcaster anywhere in the world would not be of value to the web giants,” she stressed on Thursday.

CBC/Radio-Canada will therefore get its share of the pie. “I am fully aware of the dynamics and the difficulty of our media on the market and we will take it into consideration in the final regulations,” she said. I don’t think CBC/Radio-Canada should leave with a third of the envelope. » The public broadcaster “represents roughly a third of the journalistic force in Canada.”

Minister St-Onge recalled that other news media also received “a lot of government support” through the payroll tax credit and funds to support television stations through the Council of the Canadian Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The legislation already provides that the collective which will negotiate with Google for the distribution of the envelope will have the obligation to include independent media, indigenous media and official language media in minority settings, contrary to what was done in Australia, where the big players had been favored.

She recalled that these were not federal funds, but private funds. The Online News Act establishes a framework to allow Google and the media, which will be represented by a collective, to reach an agreement on the sharing of its revenues. This mechanism was chosen to preserve the independence of the news media from political power.

Minister Pascale St-Onge confirmed that she was scheduled to meet Minister Mathieu Lacombe in the coming weeks to discuss the future of the media.

“The media should have the right to make their own decisions on this, to decide where this money goes,” said Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet in the press scrum. And this is not supposed to be decided by either the Canadian government or the Quebec government. »

The media industry should come together, according to him, as the music industry already does to separate the envelope. However, he believes that the public broadcaster should be excluded. “Radio-Canada already has the advantage of being financed by the Canadian government in addition to selling advertising,” he recalled. He fears that the dominant position of the public broadcaster in the regions will “weaken other media”. Google’s money should therefore finance local media which produce regional news, according to him.