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Which Media Benefitted From The Trudeau Government's Covid-19 Funds? – CANADALAND

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Publications such as Maclean’s, The Logic, select Postmedia and Black Press papers, Daily Hive, and The Epoch Times benefited from emergency funding the Trudeau government has provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the news outlets that received the latest round of tens of millions of dollars in 2021 emergency funding have not been disclosed to the public. The funding initiatives add to other government funding pools some of the recipients were already benefiting from.

An emergency relief fund was created in 2020 near the beginning of the pandemic that gave over $60 million to Canadian outlets. The amounts given out last year were disclosed, and some of the larger payouts are highlighted below. (The full list is provided at the bottom of this article). In late June, a month and a half prior to the current Canadian election being called, the Ministry of Heritage announced a new “Recovery Fund,” giving away over $30 million.

The ministry did not answer questions about the identities of the recipients of the most recent funds.

Per a July letter to the Commons Heritage Committee first reported by Blacklock’s, Minister Steven Guilbeault said the funding was intended to help news outlets give readers the “timely information they require from their government.”

Some of the news outlets receiving funds in 2020 took as much as a 75 per cent wage subsidy for employees by claiming the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Eligible employees were provided with a wage subsidy of 75 per cent under the CEWS, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week. The CEWS is continuing to give financial relief to businesses until October. The CEWS registry discloses recipients but does not make public the total amount of money that companies receive.

As a Canadian business eligible for the wage subsidy program, Canadaland registered for the CEWS, but has a policy of not applying for any media-specific programs. 

Canadian journalism historian Marc Edge believes the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for Canadian journalism since 2019 compromises the fourth estate’s independence in covering government. 

“Hardly any media are reporting on all of the press bailouts … or on the fact the opposition leader has promised to cancel the $595 million bailout,” said Edge. “This is starting to smell very bad indeed. Canadians are not stupid.” 

Maclean’s received $313,000 from the emergency fund last year. Maclean’s claimed the CEWS and received its annual Canadian Periodical Fund (CPF) grant of about $1.3 million. 

“Like most Canadian businesses, Maclean’s experienced huge challenges during the pandemic,” said St. Joseph Communications (SJC) Media content and creative vice-president Maryam Sanati. “We are enormously grateful for the support of Canadian Heritage and the Canadian Periodical Fund, which allowed us to continue our work.”

Five of SJC Media’s other publications [Canadian Business, Flare, Chatelaine (English), Chatelaine (French), and Today’s Parent], received a combined total of $700,267 from the 2020 emergency fund. These publications accessed $2.1 million under the CPF. SJC Heritage, separate from its registration of CEWS for Maclean’s, registered for the wage subsidy program. 

Some news outlets that took funding from this emergency fund are designated as Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations (QCJOs), which allows news outlets to claim the media bailout funding started in 2019. QCJOs can apply to receive the Canadian journalism labour tax credit for their subscriptions to be eligible for the digital news subscription tax credit, and, if they are a non-profit, for “qualified donee” status as a registered journalism organization, which means they can issue tax receipts for donors. 

Black Press received $183,265 that was split between 30 news outlets and $5 million distributed to 48 news outlets from a second phase of the emergency fund. The Lake Cowichan Gazette (a news outlet affiliated with Black Press) claimed the CEWS, but it appears none of its other publications did. 

Earlier this year, a story in Canadaland found Black Press updated a story after it had been published without issuing any corrections, and former journalists working for the conglomerate described it as an understaffed content mill. 

Postmedia had $355,871 given out to 21 news outlets and $946,140 provided to 27 news outlets in a second phase. This conglomerate had select news outlets eligible for tax credits under the media bailout. 

Ming Pao Newspapers had $928,510 distributed to 10 news outlets and $111,010 was provided to six news outlets in a second phase. A report from the Center for International Media Assistance in 2013 found Ming Pao attempts to accommodate Chinese Communist Party sensibilities. 

Sing Tao Newspapers had $199,192 split between two news outlets. Sing Tao claimed the CEWS. This conglomerate publishes consistent pro-CCP stories. 

Another large 2020 emergency recipient was the Epoch Times, at $455,097. The Epoch Times claimed the CEWS. The Epoch Times is affiliated with the Falun Gong, a Chinese religious movement the CCP claims is a cult, and this news outlet has spread COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories. 

The Daily Hive received $553,903 of the 2020 emergency fund. This news outlet took the CEWS. 

The Logic received $218,049 of the 2020 emergency fund. David Skok, the editor-in-chief at the Logic, first opposed the media bailout, but shifted his position because he did not want competitors accessing government funds to have an unfair financial advantage. The Logic claimed the CEWS and is eligible for tax credits under the media bailout. 

“The Logic was founded on the belief that journalistic independence comes from financial independence,” said Skok. “As I wrote in a 2018 column, if we don’t apply for government grants available to the company, we are putting the Logic at a severe disadvantage in retaining talent and securing investment in a marketplace distorted by government and big tech intervention that rewards incumbent firms.” 

Daniel Savoie, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Heritage, said the objective of the emergency fund is to provide additional relief to organizations struggling with operation viability because of the pandemic. The ministry published guidelines for news outlets containing eligibility criteria. Any news outlet that met this criteria could receive funding. 

“A free and independent press is a cornerstone of democracy,” said Savoie. “It is important that Canadians continue to have access to a variety of news sources and that the broadcasting system is an important source of news for many Canadians.” 

Overstory Media Group (OMG) is a digital news company that has found success with newsletters covering local issues in cities, such as Capital Daily in Victoria. OMG is expanding and aiming to have a roster of 250 employees and 50 news outlets across Canada by 2023. OMG covers news in the same local markets as some of the newspaper chains receiving the media bailout and the emergency fund, such as LMP Publication Partnership’s news outlet Burnaby Now receiving $196,400 in the same local market as OMG’s Burnaby Beacon. (OMG is a venture of Andrew Wilkinson, whose foundation is an investor in Canadaland.)

“We’re building media outlets in these communities because we’ve heard there is a need for local reporting that is actually local, and not a repeat of a press release or syndicated content,” said OMG CEO and former co-owner and editor-in-chief of Daily Hive Farhan Mohamed. “We don’t see ourselves as a competitor to the legacy news conglomerates in place, rather a resource filling a gap in these communities.”

Mohamed also said he has no issue with Canadian media looking for government support, but that the funding should go directly to journalism and the process should be “fair and equitable.”

The Trudeau government’s 2020 emergency cultural fund — officially titled the Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage, and Sport Organizations — was distributed in two phases. 

Phase One used a formula-based top-up funding to recipients of the Aid to Publishers (ATP) component of the CPF, which many of these print publications accessing the emergency fund were collecting in annual grants. There were 572 periodicals given a total of $15.4 million. Phase Two of the Emergency Support Fund provided a formula to reward investment in editorial content to assist free, digital, and small circulation magazines and community newspapers that do not receive funding from ATP. There were 792 recipients funded at about $45 million. 

In the last two previous elections, the Liberals committed to supporting the media industry. The 2015 Liberal election platform promised the party would reverse cuts former prime minister Stephen Harper made to CBC/Radio-Canada, and once in power, the Trudeau government renewed $150 million in annual funding. In 2019, in the leadup to that year’s election, the Liberals unveiled a $595 million bailout for select news outlets.

In the 2021 election, the Liberal Party of Canada has promised that if re-elected, they would introduce legislation in their first 100 days to require social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to give revenue to designated news outlets for users sharing content. 

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole said that if his party wins power, he will end the media bailout. 

The New Democratic Party of Canada has promised to extend support to Canadian media to assist them in making a digital transition. 

“In the short term, it may have saved or created a few media jobs and thus boosted journalism, but only at the cost of credibility,” said Edge. “Many Canadians now think the press has been bought off by the Liberals.” 

Top image: a Google Maps rendering of the Department of Canadian Heritage headquarters in Gatineau.

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City of Brandon – September 18th Media Release – City of Brandon –

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For the last 24 hours: 

Stolen Vehicle Recovered:

At about 9:30 AM Friday morning, a vehicle stolen from Winnipeg was located unoccupied in the 300 block Louise Avenue, by a member on patrol.  The vehicle was seized and towed to BPS where it was subjected to a forensic examination.

Fire in Apartment Complex:

At 1:12 PM Friday, a resident of an apartment within 1400 Pacific Avenue reported fire alarms were sounding in his unit.  Members attended and found an active fire within the suite, which was quickly extinguished.  Investigation revealed that the fire was caused accidentally when the tenant set a bag of groceries on the stove, incidentally turning a burner on, which ignited some of the contents of the grocery bag.

Arrest Warrants Executed:

A 41 year-old male was arrested on the strength of an arrest warrant on Friday evening after being checked in the 1000 block Victoria Avenue.  A police records checked showed he was wanted for failing to attend for identification.  He was processed and released to appear in court on a later date.

A 33 year-old female rom Winnipeg was arrested for possession of property obtained by crime after a vehicle was stopped on the TransCanada Highway.  An arrest warrant, held by the Winnipeg Police Service for the noted offence, was returned during a records query.  The accused was released from custody to appear in court in Winnipeg on December 14th.

An unendorsed warrant for arrest for a 36 year-old Brandon man was executed just before 2:00 AM this morning.  The male was wanted for failing to comply with conditions of an undertaking.  He was held in custody and will appear before the court today.

Boissevain RCMP arrested a 61 year-old male resident of Hartney, MB on the strength of an arrest warrant held by BPS, for failing to attend court.  The accused was later released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on November 29th.

Ste Rose RCMP arrested a 43 year-old male during the course of an investigation and learned that BPS held an endorsed warrant for arrest for failing to attend for identification.  The accused will appear before the court today on all charges.

Failing to Comply with Orders:

A 22 year-old female was checked by police in the 0-00 block 10th Street just before midnight Friday night.  She was found to be bound by an undertaking that included a daily curfew condition, which the accused was breaching.  She was processed and released to appear in court on December 16th.

A 47 year-old male was also arrested for violating a curfew condition of a release order.  At 4:20 AM this morning, the accused was located in the 0-00 block 9th Street, well outside of his 9:00 PM – 8:00 AM curfew. He too was processed and released to appear in court on December 16th.

Others:

Four males were held overnight under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act after being located in separate incidents, and being intoxicated to the point they were unable to safely care for themselves.  They will be released once they are more sober.

RELEASE AUTHORIZED BY:

Acting Staff Sergeant D. Lockkhart, #101

B Platoon

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Anyone with information on any unsolved crime is asked to call Brandon Crime Stoppers at 204-727-(TIPS) 8477, www.brandoncrimestoppers.com or by texting BCSTIP and your message to CRIMES (274637).  Crime Stoppers pays up to $2000.00 cash for information that leads to the solution of a crime.

CRIME STOPPERS 204-727-TIPS

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How the party platforms compare on future of CBC, media supports – CBC.ca

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The media, including broadcasting and streaming, were the topic of much debate in the months leading into the election. 

Of particular interest to the public was Bill C-10, which was introduced by the Liberals and would have required many digital media companies to promote Canadian content. The bill was controversial, and it did not become law before the election was called.

Debates have raged during the Liberal government about whether Canada’s media industry should receive government support as ad revenues fall, and whether CBC/Radio-Canada should change its programming and funding model.

The parties have made some significant pledges when it comes to media and the public broadcaster. Here are the highlights:

Liberals

If the Liberals are re-elected, their platform pledges to introduce legislation that would require digital platforms, such as  Facebook, to share a portion of revenue generated from news content with Canadian news outlets.

“This legislation would be based on the Australian model and level the playing field between global platforms and Canadians news outlets,” the platform says.

Similarly, the Liberals are pledging to reintroduce legislation to change Canada’s Broadcasting Act. They’ll make it a requirement for foreign web giants, such as YouTube and Netflix, to promote Canadian content.

Most parties are proposing that web giants such as Facebook contribute financially to the Canadian media industry. (Paul Sakuma / The Associated Press)

The Liberals are also promising to extend insurance coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic for media production stoppages. They also say they’ll double the government’s current contribution of to the Canada Media Fund to support Canadian television production.

When it comes to CBC, the Liberals want to “update CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate to ensure that it is meeting the needs and expectations of today’s Canadian audiences with unique programming that distinguishes it from private broadcasters.”

They say they’ll provide $400 million over four years to CBC with the aim of making the public broadcaster less reliant on private advertising during news and current affairs programs.

At a press conference in Aurora, Ont., on Monday, Justin Trudeau said his party will always support the media.

“I am happy to stand here and defend the work that media does as an essential part of our democracy,” he said. “We will always be there to support and thank members of the press for doing the important work of bringing things forward, of challenging all parties and anyone who wants to lead this country, and holding leaders to account.”

Conservatives

Like the Liberals, the Conservatives are also proposing that Google and Facebook pay royalties for Canadian news content — adding that they will look at best practices from countries that have taken a similar approach, such as Australia and France.

They’ll also do a “full review” of the CRTC’s mandate, with a focus of “ensuring that it better reflects the needs of Canadians and doesn’t prevent Canadian broadcasters from innovating and adapting to changes in the market.”

They’re promising to repeal Bill C-10, which was the Liberal effort to require web giants to promote Canadian content. Instead, they are promising an alternative approach that would require digital streaming services to reinvest a “significant” amount of their Canadian revenue into making original Canadian programs.

The Conservatives are pledging to end the media bailout initiated by the Trudeau government in 2019, when it  set aside nearly $600 million over five years to support media outlets.

“While we support Canadian media outlets, they should not be directly receiving tax dollars,” their platform reads. “Government funding of ‘approved’ media undermines press freedom, a vital part of a free society.”

When it comes to CBC, the Conservatives pledge to review the mandate of CBC English TV, including CBC News Network, and also English digital news. The platform adds that the review would look at the viability of a “public interest model like that of PBS in the United States, ensuring that it no longer competes with private Canadian broadcasters and digital providers.”

They’re also proposing a separate legal and administrative structure for Radio-Canada, while also ensuring the French-language broadcaster does not charge user fees for its streaming services or operate a sponsored content department.

The Conservatives are proposing a review of CBC’s English TV and digital news operations. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

At an announcement in Saint John earlier this week, O’Toole said he does not believe CBC should compete with the private sector in certain areas.

“The public interest mandate is critical in terms of rural communities being connected, in terms of keeping Canadians informed, and that’s the public interest side I like,” he said.

“What I don’t like is competition with the private sector that is holding on by a thread … in English television and in digital, competing and hollowing out jobs in the private sector, leading to less choice, less options, less voices.”

He also reaffirmed that his government would end public financial support for media outlets.

“We also have to look to end the direct government supports to media, but work with them to try and make sure they transition to the digital space, to this new media environment,” he said. “We need to balance the playing field with the American web giants, and we will do that, while protecting freedom of speech and Internet freedom.”

NDP

The NDP are also promising changes to the Broadcasting Act, with an aim of creating “a level playing field between Canadian broadcasters and foreign streaming giants,” according to its platform.

The platform says the party will make Netflix, Facebook, Google and other digital media companies pay corporate taxes and contribute to Canadian content in both English and French.

“Most Canadians now get their news from Facebook, and Netflix is the largest broadcaster in the country,” the platform says. “But despite the Liberals promising to take action, these web giants still don’t pay the same taxes or contribute to funding Canadian content in the same way traditional media do.”

The party says it will put a priority on partnering with independent Canadian producers and on increasing funding for TeleFilm and the Canada Media Fund, although it doesn’t say how much.

The NDP is pledging to increasing funding for CBC and Radio-Canada “to help reverse the damage of decades of funding cuts under both Liberal and Conservative governments.” The platform doesn’t specify an amount.

But in an interview with the advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Singh said he’d look into bringing funding for the public broadcaster to levels seen in other countries.

“I want us to get to a point where we’re not among the lowest funded in the world. We need to be competitive with what other jurisdictions are doing. … We want to have properly funded, well-funded public broadcasting,” he said. “I’m definitely prepared to increase [funding].”

People’s Party

The People’s Party has said during the campaign that it would end the media bailout “to guarantee that Canada has a free and independent press,” according to a news release from the party.

With regard to CBC/Radio-Canada, the People’s Party would either defund and privatize it, or it would change the funding model to a partly donor-driven one like those with NPR and PBS in the United States.

“What we need are free and independent media, not media that are dependent on the government for their survival and profitability,” PPC Leader Maxime Bernier said in a statement.

Greens

The Green platform says the party is in favour of regulating social media platforms and streaming services through the CRTC “as envisioned in Bill C-10.”

The party also wants the CRTC to reserve more bandwidth for independent and non-profit stations, and it is pledging to create an independent commission to study the concentration of media ownership in Canada.

With respect to CBC, the party says it will “provide a stable base-funding” for CBC’s English and French operations, but additionally wants to see programs in Indigenous languages and programming that encourages learning of Indigenous languages.

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Social media strategies played important role in pandemic election: experts – CTV News

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Bakhtawar Khan excitedly waited, her friend holding two cellphones and a camera, for her turn to get a photo with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

The 20-year-old, like most people showing up to political rallies across the country, wanted to share the image with friends and followers on social media.

“I feel like a lot of people are telling me not to vote for NDP because it will be a split with the Liberals,” Khan said. “But the way I look at social media, I don’t think it will be true this year.”

Khan, like people across the country, says she gets all her political and election information from social media.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been spending even more time on their social media and all the political parties are hoping to take advantage to tap directly into their voter base. But just because someone likes or shares a political post doesn’t necessarily translate at the polls.

Experts across the country are watching to see which party’s social media strategy paid off the most on election day.

Half of Canadians, regardless of age, use Facebook weekly to get news on current events and politics, said Oksana Kishchuk, a consultant with Abacus Data.

Social media has become a vital player in building support. It’s not just about posting either, she said, as parties have to consider good photos, snappy clips and current trends.

“Mastering these techniques will be important,” Kishchuk said.

As election day comes closer, she says all three main parties are taking the strategy of “target and spend.” In the last week or so, each has spent $400,000 to $600,000 on advertisements on Facebook and Instagram. The Liberals and NDP are using that cash to share messages focusing mainly on their own strengths, while the Conservatives have put a focus on Justin Trudeau, she said.

 The most recent polling by Abacus shows Liberals in the lead with their social media strategy, Kishchuk said, but impressions of Singh and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole rose significantly during the election.

In particular, Kishchuk said she’s interested to see the outcome of the New Democrats focus on TikTok to connect with younger voters.

“Very few (users) are using TikTok as a main source for news,” she added.

Tori Rivard says she joined the app because of Singh after seeing “a lot of hype” from the leader through her friends’ social media accounts. Now, she is excited about the party and even showed up to a campaign stop in Ontario.

“I think it’s super important especially with millennials and gen Z because social media is how we get all of our information pretty much,” Rivard said. “So (Singh) being engaged on there makes us more likely to seek out more information elsewhere.”

Tamara Small, a professor of political science at the University of Guelph, said she thinks TikTok as a campaign strategy is more of a “stunt” and will be less influential at the ballot box.

“As a tool of persuasion, it’s a bunch of people who cannot vote, and a bunch of people who, if they can vote, don’t likely vote,” she said. “So, thank goodness it’s free because you wouldn’t want to spend money there.”

Small also cautioned that social media can get party faithful excited but has less impact on flipping people’s partisanship.

“The whole thing is a big echo chamber,” she said.

“If you are going to go on social media you are unlikely to follow the leader of the party that’s ‘the worst’ because why would you do that to yourself.”

Social media is a double-edged sword for political parties, said Kim Speers, a professor at the University of Victoria. It has the potential to garner new support by sharing what the party stands for

“It also has the potential to decrease support if negative (information) is found on a current candidate’s social media account or if the messaging is or can be negatively misinterpreted,” she said.

Both the Conservatives and the New Democrats removed candidates or saw them resign because of their social media history.

All parties are taking a hybrid approach, she said, which includes social media ads, videoconferencing and in-person campaigning. She said NDP are focusing on new social media platforms, the Liberals have a more traditional approach with things like Facebook ads and the Conservatives are using a virtual approach, with online question-and-answer sessions and rallies.

The mix is important, Speers said, because when it comes to social media the parties “may have followers but they need voters more.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

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