Waterloo Region Record

Torstar critical of Google deal

Agreed-upon compensation below $172M set out in draft regulations


Torstar is calling the deal struck between the federal Liberals and Google over compensation for online news a “disappointment,” and one the media company can’t support.

On Wednesday, Canada’s heritage minister announced that Google would pay Canadian media organizations $100 million annually, indexed to inflation, to share news content on its massive search engine.

The tech giant had threatened to remove Canadian content if its issues with the Online News Act, formerly known as Bill C-18, weren’t resolved before the legislation came into effect on Dec. 19. Among its concerns, Google had been seeking certainty over how much it would be expected to pay.

But the agreed-upon amount is far below the $172 million set out in the government’s draft regulations and is, rather, more in line with what Google had said it would accept.

“For three years, we have been engaged in a public process to ensure that C-18 would level the financial playing field between American tech giants and Canadian publishers,” said Torstar owner and publisher Jordan Bitove. “Yesterday’s announcement from the federal government about their proposed Google deal is disappointing.”

Heritage Minister Pascale StOnge had heralded the agreement, saying “It’s $100 million that doesn’t exist right now in the system. It’s new money, new revenue.”

Bitove said he appreciated StOnge’s efforts, but “Torstar cannot support the $100 million cap in its current condition,” adding it “was not responsible” to announce a deal while final regulations are still not publicly available.

With most Canadians reading their news online, digital platforms — sharing content created by Canadian media outlets — have earned billions in online advertising.

The contentious legislation, passed last June, was introduced to ensure the likes of Google and Meta compensate Canadian publishers who have seen their advertising revenues decline. (Torstar, which publishes the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator, Peterborough Examiner, St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and the Waterloo Region Record, favoured and lobbied for the legislation.)

Meta, which operates Facebook and Instagram, already responded earlier this year by blocking news content for Canadians on its platforms.

Wednesday’s news, however, was welcomed by CBC/Radio-Canada.

“By ensuring that news organizations can negotiate fair compensation for the content they create, this agreement marks a very important step toward building a healthy news ecosystem for Canadians,” the CBC said in a statement. “It is also encouraging for countries and news companies all over the world who are facing these same challenges.”

Critics have questioned whether the publicly funded media organization should benefit from compensation.

With most Canadians reading their news online, digital platforms — sharing content created by Canadian media outlets — have earned billions in online advertising






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