resim 1311
resim 1311

(OTTAWA) The web giants have demonstrated that a law to compensate Canadian media for the republication of their content on their platforms is necessary by turning their noses up too long on calls to negotiate a fair agreement.

The situation changed when the federal government raised the possibility of following Australia’s lead by also adopting a law obliging the Googles and Facebooks of this world to pay financial compensation to the media.

The web giants then undertook to negotiate agreements with a limited number of Canadian media such as The Toronto Star or The Globe and Mail.

“Without the threat of a bill, there would have been no agreements in Canada,” Pierre-Elliott Levasseur, president of La Presse, told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

“For years, we tried to have agreements with these platforms. The vast majority of media in Canada have tried to have agreements with Google and Facebook. We got the door slammed in the face every time,” Levasseur added.

Mr. Levasseur came to testify in support of Bill C-18, which aims to force digital giants to negotiate deals that would compensate Canadian media for the republication of their content on their platforms. Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley, Le Devoir editor Brian Myles and News Media Canada President and CEO Paul Deegan were also heard by senators on the Transportation and communications.

Bill C-18 has been passed by the House of Commons. It is currently under consideration in the Senate.

According to Mr. Levasseur, this bill is all the more important because it will force the hand of web giants to negotiate an agreement with all Canadian media, regardless of their size, instead of talking to a handful of them. them.

The president of La Presse also indicated that the daily undertook formal negotiations with Google before being told quite simply that the talks were ending. “We were negotiating in good faith. One day they got up, they called us and they said, “We’ve finished the negotiations.” We asked why. They said, ‘It’s from San Francisco.

Le Devoir editor Brian Myles also argued for the bill’s passage, although the daily brokered deals with MSN in 2014, Apple News Plus in 2020, and Meta (Facebook) and Google in 2021. “It is very important that publishers have the choice to negotiate individually or collectively with platforms,” ​​he argued, also expressing the wish that the regulations governing negotiations under the auspices of the CRTC be adopted as quickly .

For his part, Paul Deegan argued that this bill is essential for the survival of small media, many of which are currently on life support. “It’s basically a battle of David versus Goliath when it comes to web giants. There is also an imbalance between the various Canadian media. We are pleased that the Toronto Star was able to reach an agreement. But we want small publishers and ethnic newspapers to also have access to these agreements, ”he pleaded.

Phillipe Crawley explained that The Globe and Mail has already concluded agreements with several web giants that allow the daily to attract new readers. He argued for lawmakers to limit the CRTC’s powers to “invite itself into newsrooms” to dictate negotiations. He argued that the CRTC’s expertise is limited to broadcasters, not the newspaper industry.

In recent weeks, Google and Facebook have threatened to block news content in Canada if Bill C-18 passes Parliament.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez again strongly denounced the threat when he testified Monday before a Commons committee.

Asked about it on Tuesday by some senators, media leaders said the threat, if carried out, could have significant effects.

“We need the strength of these platforms to amplify our content and reach users where they are. Nowadays, it is rare for a user to take an application or a website and go through all the sections. The paths that lead to our content is mainly Google keyword research and social media sharing,” said Brian Myles.

According to Pierre-Elliott Levasseur, the web giants have brandished this threat because they want to nip in the bud any legislative measure that could inspire the American Congress. “I think they don’t want it to be repeated in the United States as well,” he said. He added that nothing would prevent Google and Facebook from not renewing the agreements that have been reached with certain Canadian media if Bill C-18 is not passed.