News Media Canada says forcing big tech to pay for content could help pay for 700 journalism jobs | The Star

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A report by News Media Canada found that publishers would recover a whopping $620 million if big technology companies such as Google and Facebook were forced to pay for news content.

In a report released in September, News Media Canada estimates that Canadian news publishers could recoup millions of dollars per year if big technology companies such as Google and Facebook were forced to pay for news content.

The argument in favour of doing so is that the two tech companies benefit from the news articles written by traditional media companies — via the ad revenue and traffic those stories drive — but they don’t pay for the content.

News Media Canada’s analysis sheds light on the economic argument to do so by revealing some eye-popping numbers.

The report found that publishers would recover a whopping $620 million in payment for their content, which could support 700 journalists. Accordingly to its economic analysis, such regulation would also result in an additional $236 million in federal tax revenue.

Google, for its part, has long disputed the idea that it’s responsible for the demise of newspapers.

“Google doesn’t ‘use’ or ‘steal’ news content (we just link you to what you’re looking for, including news),” reads an open letter by Google Australia managing director Mel Silva that was posted online in August, in response to their proposed law.

“We’ve shared research showing that the fall in newspaper revenue over recent years was mainly the result of the loss of classified ads to online classifieds businesses.”

Once upon a time, newspapers dominated the advertising business, and the revenue from print ads helped pay for the journalism that, according to News Media Canada, is “central to ensuring accountable politics, successful elections, and is essential to democracy.”

But newspapers have since seen the ads that once filled their pages — and paid for their journalism — migrate onto screens. Over the last decade internet-based advertising revenue in Canada has grown almost four fold, to $8.6 billion.

But as the revenue moved online, it has been increasingly scooped up by digital giants.

In 2014, tech behemoths including Facebook and Google were taking in $2.8 billion in ad revenue in Canada. By 2019? A whopping $7.5 billion.

Over the same time period, publisher’s revenues declined by 43 per cent.

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