Canada Feds try to avoid Australian pitfalls in online news bill
Feds signal room for tweaking online streaming bill in committee
OTTAWA — The federal government has signalled it is open to MPs tweaking a bill that would subject streaming companies, such as Netflix, to the same rules as traditional Canadian broadcasters. Chris Bittle, parliamentary secretary to the heritage minister, said in the House of Commons on Tuesday there is "room" for MPs to amend the bill after it goes to committee for scrutiny. On Tuesday during Commons debate, Tory MPs indicated they planned to table amendments to the bill, which they say is flawed.
OTTAWA — The Canadian government says it has learned from Australia's experience when it comes to requiring online giants to pay news outlets to use their journalism, and has framed its bill to avoid the country's pitfalls.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez on Tuesday introduced a bill modelled on an Australian law making digital platforms such as Google pay Canadian media outlets for reusing their journalism.
Digital giants will have six months to negotiate private deals to compensate Canadian media outlets or be forced to reach an agreement, under the terms of the bill.
Celebrities pay tribute to cricketer Shane Warne at service
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An eclectic array of celebrities including singer Elton John, golfing legend Greg Norman and champion surfer Kelly Slater paid tribute on Wednesday to their friend, former Australian cricketer Shane Warne, at a star-studded state memorial service. More than 50,000 mourners chanted their hero’s nickname “Warnie” at the outset of the service at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as they used to do when he took to the pitch for a match. It was his hometown pitch where he cemented his sporting legend in 2006 by becoming the first bowler in the world to take 700 test wickets.
The tech giants could face fines of up to $15 million a day if they fail to comply.
Australia's law prompted a fierce backlash last year, including from Facebook, which protested by blocking news on its platform across Australia.
The social media platform lifted the ban on Australians viewing and sharing news after striking a deal with the country's government.
One official in Rodriguez's Heritage Department, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters not public, said the government has studied the Australian bill and has spoken repeatedly to Australian officials.
The Heritage official said that, though using Australia's law as a model, the government is taking a more hands-off approach with Bill C-18, as it is known in Parliament.
Senators overwhelmed by emails, calls pushing conspiracy theories about basic income legislation
Members of the Red Chamber have been hit by a wave of questionable correspondence from Canadians convinced that a pending Senate bill would take away their pensions and lead to some sort of totalitarian world government. Tens of thousands of calls, emails and handwritten letters urging senators to oppose Bill S-233 have flooded into the Red Chamber. The emails — many of them based on outlandish conspiracy theories — have at times overloaded the Senate's servers, bringing the normal workflow to a grinding halt.
Canada's bill, government officials say, will give less power to ministers than in Australia, with more decisions handed to an independent regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
They say Canada's bill makes it clear digital companies will have the freedom to strike private deals with papers and other media outlets, which must fulfil set criteria.
The Canadian bill also defines terms more clearly — such as what kind of platforms and news outlets the law will apply to — to leave less space for ambiguity and make the system more transparent than in Australia, the Heritage official said.
But experts say Canada's bill is more heavy-handed in some respects and will make platforms also pay for audiovisual news content, unlike in Australia.
Michael Geist, the University of Ottawa's Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law, predicts Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, and Google will fiercely resist efforts to make them pay for links to news sites posted on their platforms.
Feds try to avoid Australian pitfalls in online news bill
OTTAWA — The Canadian government says it is learning from Australia's experience when it comes to requiring online giants to pay news outlets to use their content. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez on Tuesday introduced a bill modelled on an Australian law making digital platforms such as Google compensate Canadian media outlets for reusing their news content. Australia's law prompted Facebook to introduce a temporary ban on Australians viewing and sharing news. Federal officials say they have studied Australia's version of the law and are taking a more hands-off approach with less power for ministers and more decisions handed to an independent regulator.
He suggested that if a price tag is attached to internet links, the online companies could demand that news platforms compensate them for posting links to their journalism — not the other way around.
"The bill is requiring mandatory payments for links, but links should not be compensable at all," he said. "This hurts the dissemination of information in Canada."
Geist said the bill creates an incentive for news organizations to post more and more links on Facebook because they could get more compensation for doing so.
He said it could also give digital giants power over the way media organizations spend their money.
The Canadian bill says a portion of compensation should be used to support the production of local, regional and national news, as well as Indigenous and racialized content. Geist said platforms could insist a set proportion of funds back these objectives.
Meta and Google said they are still reviewing the bill and declined to comment.
Meta said Tuesday links to news articles and previews make up only four per cent of what people see on their Facebook feed, and that the company has committed $18 million in the last seven years to programs and partnerships with media in Canada.
Leclerc takes pole position for F1 Australian Grand Prix
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc claimed his second pole position of the year with a blistering final lap in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday. Leclerc, who won the season-opening race in Bahrain in March, posted a time of 1 minute, 17.868 seconds to edge Red Bull driver and defending series champion Max Verstappen by .286 seconds. Red Bull driver Sergio Perez qualified in third position, while LandoThe 22-year-old Norris completed a lap of the Albert Park circuit in 1 minute, 19.117, with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc .132 seconds behind in second position in a session interrupted by two red flags.
Launching the bill, Rodriguez said it will bolster Canada's news industry which is at risk with 451 news outlets closing their doors since 2008.
At least one-third of Canadian journalism jobs have disappeared since 2010, he added.
Meanwhile, billions of advertising dollars have migrated from traditional news sources to tech platforms.
Online advertising revenue reached $9.7 billion in 2020 with Google and Facebook taking 80 per cent, the Heritage Department said.
The bill will also enhance media organizations' bargaining power and address a market imbalance. It will permit news organizations, big and small, to team up to bargain collectively with digital giants for compensation.
If they cannot reach a deal within six months, the tech platforms would be forced into mediation with news outlets and, if that doesn't work, then binding arbitration.
The bill has been welcomed by News Media Canada, which represents more than 500 print and digital titles across Canada, saying it “levels the playing field and gives Canada's news publishers a fair shot and doesn't require additional taxpayer funds.”
“This approach has been a shining success in Australia, where publishers large and small are inking meaningful content licensing agreements,” said Jamie Irving, chair of News Media Canada, on Tuesday.
“Trusted information is needed more today than ever before, and real news reported by real journalists costs real money.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2022.
Meta funds a fellowship that supports journalism positions at The Canadian Press.
Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press
B.C. mayors dealing with flooding and wildfire damage call on feds to deliver funds .
VANCOUVER — British Columbia mayors whose communities were devastated by last year's flooding and wildfires want the federal government to deliver billions of dollars in promised funding as soon as possible. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said he was among 28 mayors and members of regional districts who met with federal and provincial public safety ministers Monday to ask about the delivery of $5 billion from Ottawa. He said the estimated cost of bringing three dikes up to provincial standards following unprecedented flooding on the Sumas Prairie is as high as $2.9 billion, with most of the funds expected to come from the federal government.