Google Is Paying Canadian Broadcasters $100M


As U.S. broadcasters push for changes to federal law to band together and negotiate with big tech companies, scores of stations in Canada are poised to collect millions of dollars. Google has agreed to pay $100 million CAD a year — or about $73 million in U.S. dollars — to broadcasters and other news outlets as part of the new Canadian Journalism Collective. The offer is made in exchange to be exempted from Canada’s Online News Act, which passed last year and requires big tech companies like Google and Meta to license content from online content publishers, including radio stations.

“We hope these next steps will be completed as quickly as possible, so Canadian publishers and journalists can soon begin to receive the proceeds of this new contribution model,” said Jaffer Zaidi, VP of Global News Partnerships at Google. “This will allow us to continue making news accessible to Canadians on our products and will unlock our contribution under this new model, which marks a significant evolution in how we support journalism and the news industry in Canada.”

Google’s agreement stipulates that payment is contingent on the company formally receiving an exemption from the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Zaidi says in a company blog post that he expects that to come in a matter of weeks. He also says that Google still believes what it describes as a “link tax” remains the “wrong approach” to supporting journalism. But after what Zaidi says were a series of “productive meetings” with the government, a way to carve out an exemption that also paid content providers like radio was devised.

Broadcasters will reportedly get $30 million of the funding, including $7 million for public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada. To decide who would get the money, Google held an open call earlier this year. The final list of news businesses that replied to the open call includes radio stations owned by Bell Media, Blackburn Media, Cogeco, Corus, Evanov Communications, My Broadcasting, Pattison Media, Stingray Radio, and Vista Radio, among others. Recipients must show they generate news content, operate in Canada, and employ at least two or more journalists.

“Under this new model, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian news publishers at no cost to them and providing them with opportunities to use Google tools and products that can help grow and engage their audiences, and drive revenue through advertising and subscriptions,” Zaidi says.

Similar Fight Still Brews In U.S.

What is happening in Canada may serve as a preview of what is to come in the U.S. A similar bill, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (S. 1094), is currently pending in Congress. It would create a limited safe harbor from antitrust laws to allow news publishers and broadcast news operations to collectively bargain with a covered platform over the terms and conditions of the tech platform’s access to digital news content. The bill was passed out of a Senate committee last July, but since then no action has been taken. It also has no companion legislation in the House.

The National Association of Broadcasters has advocated for the bill’s passage. NAB President Curtis LeGeyt has said the pending legislation would allow local stations to get fair market value of their news content. “For too long, local news outlets have been at the mercy of Big Tech behemoths that devalue broadcasters’ critical community-focused journalism when it is accessed online,” LeGeyt said last year.

Meanwhile in California, the state legislature is taking matters into its own hands. A proposal that would require big tech companies to pay publishers — including local radio stations — a “journalism usage fee” each time they use local news content and sell advertising alongside it was approved by the state’s Assembly last June. The California Journalism Preservation Act (AB 886) would require news publishers to invest 70% of the profits from the usage fee in journalism jobs.

But Google has described it as a “link tax” and warned that California’s law would put the news ecosystem “at risk,” threatening that it would result in “significant changes” to how it directs web traffic in the state. Google has already begun a testing process that it says is designed to prepare for CJPA implications. It involves removing links to California news websites to measure the impact of the legislation would have.

Google has also paused all further investments in the California news ecosystem, including new partnerships through Google News Showcase, its product and licensing program for news organizations. The planned expansions of the Google News Initiative have also been delayed indefinitely.



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