The government will introduce legislation “as soon as possible” to help Canadian online news sites make money, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Wednesday.
Rodriguez was speaking at a “Future of News” event organized by Canada 2020, an independent and progressive think tank.
By introducing Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, on Feb 2, the government is tabling legislation to meet the challenges of a digital society, he said.
The online-news bill is the second of three pieces of legislation he will introduce, followed by an online-harms bill.
Rodriguez says the online-news bill will level the playing field for online news outlets that compete with Meta (Facebook) and Google, which share and distribute news content.
While the platforms have invested in Canadian news outlets, Rodriguez said that, between the two, they make more than 80 per cent of the revenue from sharing and distributing news content.
The minister said he’s been consulting with stakeholders across the country.
“We need to design a legislation where government doesn’t decide who are the winners and the losers,” he said.
“We need a market-based system where the platforms will be negotiating with the news outlets (to) find a common solution. But we really have to stay at arm’s length, because it’s not the job of the government to decide who will benefit from this at all.”
Rodriguez said the goal is for small and large news services, including those representing specific ethnicities and regions, to benefit from compensation by Google and Meta.
Ottawa is emulating the Australian system, but will use an outside regulator, not government, to force the platforms to compensate Canadian news outlets.
In Australia, Facebook and Google are taxed for sharing links created by news organizations.
Google has entered into several news partnerships across the country. Through its News Showcase, it pays publishers directly for their content.