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Canadian government proposes that news media outlets need a license

The proposals could also include a Canadian government body mandating what “sources of accurate, trusted, and reliable sources of news” are.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has proposed that news media outlets in Canada should have to obtain a government license in order to operate – a proposal that’s being described as “scary” and “totalitarian”.

Guilbeault’s proposal comes after a panel of broadcast experts submitted a report called “Canada’s Communications Future: Time To Act” to the Canadian government last week.

The report contains a total of 97 recommendations which include forcing digital news sites to obtain a license from a government body such as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and allowing the CRTC to mandate what “sources of accurate, trusted, and reliable sources of news” are.

When asked about how the government would regulate websites under these proposals on CTV’s Question Period, Guilbeault said that for distributors of content in Canada, “We would ask that they have a license, yes.”

Guilbeault added that the government plans to table a bill related to regulate Canadian news media outlets by the end of the year.

Guilbeault was also asked about concerns that people had about the proposals leading to the regulation of international digital media outlets.

He responded by saying “Frankly, I’m not sure I see what the big deal is” and added that other companies in other sectors such as finance comply with Canadian law.

Politicians, tech executives, and Candian journalists took to Twitter to express their shock at Guilbeault’s proposals.

After facing strong pushback, Guilbeault issued a confusing followup statement where he said “we will not ask news organizations to have any, to have license” but “media organizations would need to have a license.”

After these followup comments, many journalists were still concerned about the implications of “media organizations” having to obtain a license from a government body.

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