The situation has to be really critical for the two big communications competitors to be on the same wavelength.
On Monday and Tuesday, in the first days of the CRTC hearing on the regulations that must accompany the online streaming law, Pierre Karl Péladeau, CEO of Quebecor, and Suzanne Landry, vice-president of French-language content at Bell Media, presented the The same alarm call: mainstream French-language television is on the brink of collapse and local news, whether on the small screen, on the radio or in newspapers, is becoming increasingly rare due to a lack of resources.
As we know, Quebecor had to take dramatic measures at the beginning of November: 547 people from the TVA group will soon lose their jobs, including around a hundred responsible for information gathering in the main regions of Quebec. On the information side alone, Bell Media lost $40 million last year. Consequence: Last June, Bell Media cut 1,300 jobs, most of them in English Canada. As advertising revenues continue to fall (85% less than a few years ago), job losses will increase at the Noovo TV channel and at the Rouge and Énergie radio stations.
A special information fund
Although they hardly believed it, both Bell and Quebecor were hoping that Chrystia Freeland would announce emergency aid in her economic statement released on Tuesday. The finance minister announced only a small concession for newspapers and increased tax credits for journalists only in the print press from 25% to 35%. An envelope on a wooden leg!
Bell wants Ottawa to create a news production fund funded in whole or in part by a share of the revenue generated by the digital giants in Canada. For reasons the Liberal government has never clearly stated, it opposes such a fund. Quebecor, for its part, doubts that Ottawa will be able to get even the slightest contribution from the American giants, even if the new Online News Act (C-18) “requires” them to negotiate a contribution with the Canadian media.
It’s not very realistic to imagine that Google, Meta and the others will end up negotiating a share of the costs of dozens of Canadian media companies, let alone a few hundred. The digital giants will simply have to wait until the election of the Conservative Party, whose leader has promised to abolish this difficult law.
We’re not out of the woods yet
This is far from the first time our identity and culture have been threatened. At the end of the last century, the Canadian government had to largely abandon its efforts to protect Canadian magazines from the invasion of American magazines. Sheila Copps, then Minister of Heritage, authorized American magazines to publish a Canadian edition on the condition that they not solicit advertising in Canada.
Despite the “cultural exemption” we enjoy, every time the Canadian government wanted to protect our media, it more or less ran up against the WTO (the World Trade Organization), which sets the trade rules between countries, or, even worse, had to face reprisals from Washington. We are not out of the woods yet when it comes to the digital giants, as even the American government is failing to curb their appetites and tax them as intended.
Total web buff. Student. Tv enthusiast. Evil thinker. Travelaholic. Proud bacon guru.