Newspaper publishers need the government, their chief lobbyist yesterday told the Senate transport and communications committee. “We need them,” said Paul Deegan, CEO of News Media Canada.
“We have a market failure here,” testified Deegan. “We need a solution and that’s why we’ve come to government even though frankly we would like to stay as far away from government and the CRTC as we can. But we do need them.”
Deegan was testifying on Bill C-18 the Online News Act. The cabinet bill would compel Google and Facebook to pay newsrooms a portion of ad revenues generated by linked stories. Only newsrooms deemed by the CRTC to “follow the code of ethics of a recognized journalistic association” would qualify.
“We represent all,” said CEO Deegan. “We’ve got everyone from the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, LaPresse, Le Devoir, right down to these independents.” Membership in the lobby group is voluntary. Numerous independent newsrooms are not members of News Media Canada.
Jen Gerson of Calgary, co-founder of the online newsletter The Line, yesterday told senators that federal meddling in the business has been a “poisonous thing” for news media integrity. “Everything about this bill is a disaster,” said Gerson.