Canadian Bill C-18 is roughly modeled on a similar law in the Australian media market – the goal being to reignite the viability and funding of local news outlets.
Since 2020, over 3,000 editorial and related jobs have been lost and over 50 media outlets have closed in Canada.
The Australian law took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country. It gave the government power to make internet giants Facebook and Google negotiate content supply deals with media outlets. Since the law took effect, the tech firms have inked more than 30 deals with media outlets, compensating them (over $200 million) for content which generated clicks and advertising dollars.
The proposed law aiming to force tech giants like Google and Meta to pay for news content holds several advantages for the news media industry in Canada.
- Provide much-needed financial support to domestic publishers, bolstering their sustainability and ensuring the availability of high-quality journalism
- Promotes fairness and equity, addressing the issue of tech companies profiting from news content without adequately compensating publishers
- Potential to drive increased investment in journalism, empowering news organizations to hire more journalists and produce accurate, reliable, and in-depth reporting
Despite its benefits, the proposed Canadian Bill C-18‘s implementation could present certain challenges.
- Smaller publishers may struggle to receive fair compensation, potentially widening the disparities within the media industry
- The law may unintentionally stifle innovation, discouraging tech companies from introducing new features or services involving news content. This could hinder the development of new digital platforms and limit innovative news delivery methods
- Enforcement of Canadian Bill C-18 may lead to international repercussions, with potential retaliation from tech companies impacting the digital ecosystem and broader economic implications
The major players may take the same action as originally in Australia and suspend news linking for a period of time.
A suspension on news linking on key platforms can have several effects on audiences
- Reduced Access To News: Audiences on key platforms may find it more difficult to access news content. Links to articles, news websites, and related information may be limited or unavailable, leading to a decrease in the availability of news stories and updates.
- Impact On Information Discovery: News linking plays a crucial role in enabling users to discover and explore a wide range of news sources and perspectives. Without the ability to follow links to news articles, audiences may experience a narrower range of information and potentially miss out on diverse viewpoints.
- Dependence On Platform-Curated Content: In the absence of news linking, platforms may rely more heavily on their own curated content or algorithms to deliver news to users. This could result in a more limited selection of news sources. This could potentially increase the influence of platform biases or preferences in shaping the news that audiences are exposed to.
- Fragmented News Consumption: News linking often allows users to navigate seamlessly between different sources and topics. A suspension of news linking could lead to a more fragmented news consumption experience. Users would have to manually search for specific news sources or rely on platform-provided summaries or snippets.
- Implications For News Publishers: News linking is an essential driver of traffic and audience engagement for news publishers. A suspension of news linking could significantly impact their visibility, website traffic, and potential revenue from advertising or subscriptions. This, in turn, may affect the financial sustainability of news organizations and their ability to produce quality journalism.
It’s important to note that the specific impact on audiences would depend on the extent and duration of the news-linking suspension if any (it was limited in Australia), the alternative measures put in place by platforms, and the overall media landscape in a given region.
How is the disruption, potentially, of news linking going to affect the brands and advertisers in search and social?
- Brand Visibility: Brands that rely on news-related content for visibility and brand exposure may experience a decline in their visibility if news linking is suspended. This can be particularly relevant for brands that actively engage with news stories or advertise alongside news content.
- Targeted Advertising: News content often provides contextual relevance for targeted advertising. If news linking is suspended, advertisers may have limited access to news-related contexts for targeting their ads effectively. This could potentially impact the precision and effectiveness of their ad campaigns.
- Ad Placement Options: With news linking suspended, platforms may need to explore alternative ad placement options or adjust their advertising algorithms. This may result in changes to ad inventory, placement strategies, and targeting capabilities, requiring brands and advertisers to adapt their approaches accordingly.
- Shift In Advertising Strategies: Brands and advertisers may need to reassess their advertising strategies and explore alternative avenues to reach their target audiences. This could involve diversifying their ad placements across other content categories or exploring partnerships with non-news publishers to maintain visibility and engagement.
With expected final passage mid-summer, we support the intent of Canadian Bill C-18 and recognize the importance of a healthy, local Canadian news media and perspective. It’s important to note that the actual impact will depend on the specific circumstances, the platforms involved, and the extent to which news linking is suspended. As we navigate the potential impact of suspending news linking on key platforms, we continue to be agile and flexible adapting our strategies to the shifting advertising landscape.