Meta threatens to block access to news on Facebook and Instagram

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Meta threatens to block access to news on Facebook and Instagram

At issue: Bill C-18, which deals with revenue sharing , opposed by the digital giants.

Digital giants like Meta and Google oppose Bill C-18, delivered at third reading in the Canadian Parliament, the adoption of which would force them to pay for the content they broadcast.

Meta in turn threatens to block access to the sites of news on its Facebook and Instagram platforms if the federal online news bill passes in its current form.

A company spokeswoman, Lisa Laventure, claimed that Meta made this decision because this law, if passed, will require it to pay media outlets for links or content that ;she has not posted herself.

She adds that paying for these posts is neither profitable nor viable for Meta. Ditto for Google, which says it derives a tiny percentage of its revenue from journalistic and informational content.

If the Online News Act is passed in its current form, we will end the availability of news content to Canadians on Facebook and Instagram. This is the same position we took in the United States last year, she said in an email sent to Radio-Canada.

A legislative framework that forces us to pay for links or content that we don't post and that aren't the reason the vast majority of people use our platforms is neither viable nor feasible.

Digital giants like Meta and Google oppose Bill C-18 because the Online News Act would force them to negotiate settlements to compensate companies for Canadian news media for displaying or providing links to their news content.

In an interview with Patrice Roy on ICI RDI on Friday, the President and CEO of Quebecor, Pierre Karl Péladeau, said that these large companies must make their contribution and pay for the content they use without assuming part of the production costs.

“Why would we get our content stolen without getting a fair share?

—Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor

The businessman spoke about the difficult context for the media in general as well as for the company he leads. He feels that if there aren't financial means that are provided within a couple of years to help the private media, well, as with anything in life, there are. which will disappear.

According to major Canadian media companies and the federal government, Bill C-18 will ensure a fair sharing of revenues between digital platforms and the media.

In this regard, Pierre Karl Péladeau believes that the situation with the digital giants is in the process of clearing up and that the path to take seems to be mapped out. Mr. Péladeau added that he is certain that the issue of revenue sharing is a priority for all Canadian parliamentarians, although not everything is settled.

Alain Saulnier, former director general of news at Radio-Canada, also believes that a better distribution of revenues is necessary given the cutbacks that have been taking place in the media environment for several years in due to lost advertising revenue. Just recently, Groupe TVA and Quebecor announced the loss of 240 jobs.

The media business model has completely collapsed over the past few years simply because 80% of online advertising revenue has been captured by Facebook and Google, the media expert said in an on-air interview Saturday. from HERE RDI. There are thousands of positions that have been lost across the country in recent years.

According to a 2018 report by the Canadian Media Concentration Project:

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  • Google held half of the digital advertising market share in Canada and Facebook had just over a quarter;
  • Google's ad revenue was $3.8 billion in 2018, while Facebook's reached $2.1 billion. By comparison, Bell's advertising revenue for the same year was $146 million.
  • Mr. Saulnier denounced what he called attempts to intimidate Google and Meta. He took the opportunity to salute the work of the Canadian Minister of Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, who is holding his own against these multinationals.

    “Facebook, Google and all those digital giants have never accepted state authority. […] They consider that there is no territory, because it's the Internet and it's everywhere. But the reality is something else. It is that they make profits and turnover in a given territory.

    — Alain Saulnier, former Director General of News for Radio-Canada

    Questioned on this subject on Saturday, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, was of the same opinion. Not wanting to submit to the rules of the territory in which they operate and from which they derive vast profits is unacceptable, it is pretentious and it deserves strong state intervention, he said. /p>

    The Bloc leader expressed grave concern that such companies could claim to be above the rule of law.

    Meta also threatened to block journalistic content from its social network Facebook in Australia when the government there implemented a law similar to the one Canada plans to adopt. The company had finally backtracked.

    [The Australians] managed to find a formula, rejoiced Alain Saulnier. And this formula, which Canada is inspired by, I think is the best thing that has happened.

    Meta's release comes the day after Google Canada executives appeared before elected officials on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The latter have been heavily criticized for the company's decision to limit access to journalistic content on its platform for some Canadians.

    Google explained her position on Bill C-18 in its current form in an open letter published in the Globe and Mail on Friday, in which she explains why Canadian news content is intentionally inaccessible to 4% of the country's population. The company says that these are tests that allow it to express its disagreement with this bill, whose third reading could come before the summer and which gives a preliminary taste of what might happen if the law is passed.

    With information from The Canadian Press and< /em> d'Elyse Allard

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