Media Group Now Urges Feds to Support Google’s News Act Concerns
News Media Canada, the organization representing major Canadian publishers such as The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Postmedia, and La Presse, is calling on the federal government to address Google’s specific concerns about Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act.
The legislation is set to take effect on December 19, intensifying the ongoing dispute between Google and the Canadian government.
Bill C-18 aims to encourage tech giants like Google and Facebook to enter into licensing agreements with publishers. The bill is modeled after similar legislation in Australia and also encourages smaller publishers to bargain collectively to address power imbalances. Google and Facebook have strongly opposed the bill, with Facebook already removing Canadian news from its platform to avoid compliance.
In a recent submission, Google raised multiple concerns about the draft regulations and indicated it would withdraw Canadian news from its platform unless its issues are addressed in the final version. Google also questioned whether such issues could be resolved through regulation and suggested that an entirely new bill might be necessary.
News Media Canada, however, does not support starting over with a new bill. “Google’s submission is a welcome, clear, constructive, good faith articulation of legitimate concerns. We are in agreement with many of the issues they have raised,” said Paul Deegan, News Media Canada’s president and CEO, according to the Globe and Mail. He added that the organization is ready to work through the details before the regulations are finalized.
The statement from News Media Canada marks a significant departure from its general support for the government’s original proposals. Google, in its submission, argued that Bill C-18 is based on a “fundamentally flawed premise” and took issue with the draft regulations for not setting financial limits on platforms’ obligations.
A spokesperson for Google declined to comment on News Media Canada’s latest statement. The office of Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said it would respond later.
“After lobbying for the law and insisting for months [government] stand strong, it now supports regulation changes. But Google highlighted flaws in the law itself,” said University of Law professor Michael Geist in response to the flip-flop by News Media Canada.
As far back as 2020, News Media Canada lobbied the federal government to force Google and Meta to pay royalties to news publishers, which has since culminated in the Online News Act. Meta has already blocked the sharing of news links to comply with the law and Google is expected to follow suit in December. Now it appears this news lobby group is flip-flopping as they likely believe traffic will drop once Google blocks news, resulting in less revenue.