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News Media Lobby Group Asks MPs for Rules to Get Compensation from Google, Facebook

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By The Canadian Press

GoogleGoogle This Tuesday, July 19, 2016, file photo shows the Google logo at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Marcio Jose Sanchez)

OTTAWA — A lobby group for Canada’s newspapers and magazines is asking MPs to enact new rules to help its members negotiate compensation from social-media giants that post content the traditional media produce.

News Media Canada wants the government to let the industry negotiate collectively with the likes of Google and Facebook.

There are similar rules in other countries, such as Australia and France, where Google announced last week it had signed compensation agreements with several daily newspapers and magazines, including Le Monde.

News Media Canada’s CEO, John Hinds, said Canadian rules similar to those would negate the need for any new taxes or spending programs.

“It allows the industry and the digital monopolies to negotiate fair terms for compensation,” Hinds told MPs on the House of Commons heritage committee Friday.

“It doesn’t raise taxes, it doesn’t deal with government sort of intervening in the marketplace, but it allows a fair market interaction between the platforms and newspapers.”

The committee is studying the challenges the pandemic has created for media and culture groups.

Several members of the committee lamented the reduction in local news coverage as their newspapers cut back on coverage and editions to keep the lights on.

Hinds said some smaller newspapers closed permanently due to the pandemic, while larger publications saw newsroom layoffs.

The federal wage subsidy, he said, has been helpful in avoiding worse.

Advertising revenue plunged by 75 per cent at the start of the pandemic in many markets, he said, and the industry is still struggling with advertising declines in the range of 30 per cent.

The federal government announced a $30-million communications budget at the start of the pandemic, but Hinds said there was limited placement of the resulting ads in Canadian news media.

“The government can deliver on its mandate to communicate with Canadians by implementing a strategy of placing ads where Canadians are looking for trusted content and advertising,” he said.

Without federal help, he added, the future is grim for many of his member organizations.

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KINSELLA: International media unimpressed by Canada's vaccine rollout and they're right – Toronto Sun

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Other countries? Well, in Israel – a nation perpetually under attack, with a dysfunctional system of government, and no coronavirus vaccine-manufacturing capacity of its own, like Canada – more Israelis get vaccinated in a single day than Canada vaccinated in all of December.

In the United States – a divided nation run by an impeached lunatic, with an actual insurrection still underway – nearly ten million Americans have been vaccinated with one or more doses. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “move Heaven and Earth,” meanwhile, to get 100 million of his fellow citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of his administration.

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Justin Trudeau’s Canada? Not so good.

Now, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc is a whip-smart guy, educated at Trinity College and Harvard. He was sent out, a few days ago, to polish the turd that is Justin Trudeau’s record on vaccines.

Canada is “on track” with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, Leblanc said to various media, with a straight face. And, in response to criticisms arising from the fact that provinces have run out of doses – because they actually have – well, Leblanc said this: it’s “a bit simplistic.”

And that much is true, although not in the way that Leblanc intended. It is simple: you either have vaccines, or you don’t.

Many provinces didn’t, or not nearly enough. The University Health Network – which has thousands of beds, and patients from across Canada – effectively ran out of vaccines a few days ago. They were forced to reschedule vaccination appointments.

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KINSELLA: International media unimpressed by Canada's vaccine rollout and they're right – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

Other countries? Well, in Israel – a nation perpetually under attack, with a dysfunctional system of government, and no coronavirus vaccine-manufacturing capacity of its own, like Canada – more Israelis get vaccinated in a single day than Canada vaccinated in all of December.

In the United States – a divided nation run by an impeached lunatic, with an actual insurrection still underway – nearly ten million Americans have been vaccinated with one or more doses. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “move Heaven and Earth,” meanwhile, to get 100 million of his fellow citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of his administration.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

[embedded content]

Justin Trudeau’s Canada? Not so good.

Now, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc is a whip-smart guy, educated at Trinity College and Harvard. He was sent out, a few days ago, to polish the turd that is Justin Trudeau’s record on vaccines.

Canada is “on track” with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, Leblanc said to various media, with a straight face. And, in response to criticisms arising from the fact that provinces have run out of doses – because they actually have – well, Leblanc said this: it’s “a bit simplistic.”

And that much is true, although not in the way that Leblanc intended. It is simple: you either have vaccines, or you don’t.

Many provinces didn’t, or not nearly enough. The University Health Network – which has thousands of beds, and patients from across Canada – effectively ran out of vaccines a few days ago. They were forced to reschedule vaccination appointments.

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Media coverage of COVID is failing Albertans, and it's not the media’s fault. – Alberta Daily Herald Tribune

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This has to stop.

Either Dr. Hinshaw or her two expert, and well-compensated, deputies need to make themselves available on a regular basis to answer technical questions — from reporters whose microphones don’t get muted. They’ll need to explain what the statistics they release really mean and take questions about the particulars of outbreaks and the evolving science of the pandemic.

Yes, some of the questions and answers will be uncomfortable, and uncertainty will be highlighted. But Albertans will be better served by having these questions answered with uncertainty than they are when the questions aren’t even asked.

Of course, the semi-regular official briefings with top decision-makers should continue when there are major policy announcements. But those would also benefit from being less stilted. Also, Alberta is a wealthy province; we can afford a socially distanced second podium on the stage so that we don’t have to waste precious question time on the theatre of hand sanitizing.

COVID is contagious and it has required us to change the nature of news gathering, but the news-gathering function is more important now than ever.

Albertans are being asked to give up so much. Our compliance should happen in exchange for our government’s willingness to answer all our questions.

Vitor Marciano was formerly press secretary to two leaders of the Opposition.

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