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Canada considers forcing Big Tech to pay struggling mainstream media outlets

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The Canadian federal government is weighing options to get Big Tech platforms, such as Facebook and Google, to give money to  legacy media companies who are struggling to remain relevant.

Media companies have been struggling since the ads business they heavily relied on is now dominated by digital platforms and they haven’t bothered to update their business model.

“We are committed to finding a solution that will ensure Canadians continue to have access to a diversity of local and regional news sources that serve their needs and interests,” said Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, most notorious for waging a war against online free speech in Canada.

“Canadian news publishers play an essential role in keeping our communities safe and informed.”

However, after the first round of consultations, from stakeholders such as media companies and social media companies, the government was not able to conclusively pick a policy.

From the discussion paper published on Tuesday, there are two policy options in consideration.

The first one resembles the one that was adopted in Australia. The government would set a mandatory bargaining code that online platforms would have to meet during negotiations with news organizations. Should the two parties fail to reach an agreement, a special panel is created to arbitrate an agreeable payment structure between the two parties.

The second option involves the creation of an independent media fund. Online platforms would contribute a certain amount to this fund depending on their Canadian revenue. The funds would then be distributed to media companies.

A second round of consultations has been launched since the first round was inconclusive. In the second round, which runs for 45 days, the government said it would consider other policies, including the integration of the two options it was deliberating.

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