The letter, published by the canadian newspapers, says the situation is urgent, the media companies suffering huge declines in advertising revenue due to the pandemic of the COVID-19.
May 2, 2020 19h01
Updated at 23h27
Publishers want that Facebook and Google share the advertising revenue
The canadian Press
OTTAWA — editors who represent the majority of canadian newspapers have written an open letter to the federal government urging him to take immediate measures to ensure that the web giants like Facebook and Google to share advertising revenues with the canadian media.
The letter, which was published as an advertisement in the newspapers of the country on Saturday, says the situation is urgent, the media companies suffering huge declines in advertising revenue due to the pandemic of the COVID-19.
The editors highlight the recent measures taken in Australia, where the treasurer of the country has announced mandatory measures to force the digital companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to pay the media for the use of their content.
The measures were scheduled to be completed by November, but they are now accelerated due to sharp declines in advertising revenues caused by the COVID-19 – declines that have forced the closure of many newspapers.
Bob Cox, publisher of Winnipeg Free Press and one of the signatories of the open letter, says that the advertising revenues of the newspapers of Canada have dropped by more than 50 %, which has made the industry press written non-profitable.
He said that the wage subsidy part of the program of emergency aid of several billion dollars from the federal government will help, but he believes that Canada can and should follow the example of Australia, and create a level playing field for the media industry by encouraging the giants of the web to share the advertising revenue they derive from content created by canadian journalists and shared on their platforms.
The liberal government has also launched an awareness campaign on the COVID-19 of 30 million dollars, which has also been announced as support to the media industry, but Bob Cox noted that these measures are short-term fixes.
“We expect that the impact of the COVID-19 and the decline of the advertising will continue for some time, until at least 2020 and probably until 2021, so we will face the decline in advertising for a long time”, he said.
“We need to look at the situation as a whole, the problems in the long term, and it is one of these problems in the long term.”
The minister for Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, said last month that the government approached the implementation of the tax credits promised for a long time for newspapers to solve the income problems in the sector. The most important of these measures is a tax credit that will allow media information qualified to claim up to 25% of the wages they pay to their journalists, or to other eligible employees.
The credit, which is not available to broadcasters, will be retroactive to wages paid on or after January 1, 2019.
A panel responsible for assessing if the media are eligible for these tax measures will begin to inform the first media of their qualification for this program this spring, with payments to come out this summer, said the press-secretary Steven Guilbeault, Camille Wins-Raynauld.
“In addition, we accelerate the processing of applications to our program of Aid to publishers, and we anticipate that funds will be paid to the recipients selected in June,” she added, referring to a program designed to help print magazines and non-daily newspapers.
As regards the measures taken by Australia and France who have set the due date in the month of July that the giants of the digital begin to pay for the multimedia content protected by copyright, Camille Wins-Raynauld has declared that the federal government “closely followed what was going on in the foreign countries in regard to the support of the media,” but did not elaborate further.
Bob Cox stated that he understood that the federal government was to busy to deploy billions of dollars of aid workers and canadian employers affected by the pandemic while dealing with a public health emergency.
But implement measures to ensure that the giants of the digital share of the advertising revenue they derive from content created by the canadian journalists, that they highlight on their platforms, would unify the rules of the game for the media industry in Canada, has added Bob Cox.
This would also help the media industry to overcome the long-term effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn that ensues.
“The newspapers and the media in general have been very, very important during the outbreak of the COVID-19, they informed the public, they have fulfilled their role, the public has trusted to provide them with information on this very important issue,” said Bob Cox.
“We believe that it is time to establish a business model that is solid for them in the future. We want to be there for the next time you will need us.”
Facebook, Google and Twitter did not immediately responded to The canadian Press for comment.
Facebook announced in march that it was spending 100 million dollars to support the information industry during the crisis of the COVID-19, and Google also has a Google initiative News, in order to “work with the industry information to help journalism thrive in the digital age.”