News businesses estimated to receive C$330 million per year from digital platforms under Bill C-18

Canada’s parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux revealed in a Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications (TRCM) meeting Wednesday evening that digital news businesses will receive approximately C$330 million per year from digital platforms if the Online News Act or Bill C-18 becomes law.

That figure, Giroux said, will supply 30 per cent of the cost of newsrooms, with Google picking up 20 per cent of the cost and Meta 10 per cent. Large broadcasters will receive more as they have the largest expenditures. 

Meanwhile, news businesses will have to spend about C$21 million in transaction and compliance costs for negotiating their first deals under the bill, he added.

These numbers, Giroux explained, are estimates that the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer obtained from studying the similar legislation passed in Australia in 2021. The budget office reportedly also spoke with news businesses that reached agreements with Google or Meta to reach these estimates.

He added that the estimates are “somewhere between conservative and generous” and based on a series of hypotheses that might not come true.

Giroux further stated that the CRTC and the department of Canadian Heritage will be responsible for implementing the bill, which is expected to cost C$5.6 million per year. He said that he expects the cost to stabilize and go down a bit after a few years.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who also appeared in the Senate committee meeting, said that the number estimated to be granted to news publishers could be much larger, and would depend on the negotiations.

But when asked if there’s a limit to how much taxpayers, the government and the platforms should subsidize the ailing news sector, he said he would hate to be involved in negotiations as he wants to remain arms length.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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