What is the basis for forcing big tech to pay for news?

Bill C-18, the Online News Act, aka “An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada,” has been passed by the House of Commons and Senate and signed into law.

Now, finally, after desperate demands from Canada’s news media, big tech companies like Meta (Facebook) and Alphabet (Google) will be required to compensate them for use of their news content.

Except, no.

Instead, Meta has already announced that it will choose to block access to Canadian news content on its platforms (including Facebook and Instagram), as it said it would do when the bill was working its way through the legislature. Google has done the same after failed talks with the government. Both have already begun tests of how they would accomplish this, though it’s not entirely clear how they will implement such blocking when they go ahead with it.

On top of that, both have announced that they will end existing programs that help fund news media, including a Facebook deal with The Canadian Press and the Google News Showcase.

This clearly is not what the government or the news media want. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says the government needs to “stand up for Canadians against tech giants,” while just about every media outlet has issued a statement accusing Meta and Google of censorship.

But while politicians are pointing fingers at each other, perhaps it’s well past time to ask a very simple question:

Why does this law exist, exactly?

In other words, what problem is it trying to solve?

The preamble to the bill says it “regulates digital news intermediaries to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace and contribute to its sustainability.”

But why is it unfair?

In all the debate about the bill, it seems its proponents’ arguments can be distilled down to two simple concepts. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

Google, Facebook et al are stealing or making unauthorized use of news content

I found it interesting that in a lot of the arguments, they carefully navigated around the use of the terms “stealing” or “theft” and toward vague terms like “using” or “profiting from” or “making available.”

Perhaps because what they’re doing isn’t stealing content. If it was, there would be a lawsuit, not a new law.

There are some things that Facebook and Google (and other similar platforms) do that might cross the line into copyright infringement:

  • Providing excerpts of news stories when linking to them
  • Republishing preview images along with those excerpts
  • In Google’s case, caching web pages

But if these were truly the concerns, there are other remedies. Both Facebook and Google offer universal opt-outs for these if a page does not want to be indexed. Not only do news providers not do this, they very clearly do the opposite, deploying great efforts to ensure their pages are as highly ranked on Google searches as possible, and manually or automatically posting links to their content on Facebook.

What’s more, news outlets are not the only people who produce content. If this is a copyright issue, why aren’t all media creators being compensated in the same way? Why does news get special treatment?

Perhaps there’s some other logic behind the idea that tech giants are “stealing” or otherwise wrongfully making use of news content, an argument that only applies to news content but not any other type of content, and that requires a new law. But in the months I’ve been following this bill, I haven’t seen that argument articulated.

And if that was the argument, then the news outlets should be happy that these tech giants found a solution: They will just stop using that content.

Google and Facebook have too much market power

The other argument brought up, especially now by news outlets that want the government to step in and do something about the tech giants, is essentially an antitrust one. Google is a near-monopoly when it comes to search, and Meta owns the largest social network — in fact, it owns the four largest social networks that are not strictly video-based. Together, they have a huge part of the online ad market.

There is a legitimate argument here, one that should probably have been explored more thoughtfully when Google bought YouTube or when Facebook bought Instagram. They’ve gotten so big now that some pundits are suggesting they are no longer afraid of governments or their laws (I don’t think that’s true, neither have suggested they would refuse to comply with the law no matter how much they disagree with it or lobby against it).

But once again, how does this affect news media in a way that it somehow doesn’t affect everyone else? How does getting them to sign cheques to media corporations fix the problem of too much market power?

I’m going to propose there’s a third argument, a more accurate one, that the media outlets are hiding behind the other two:

Their business model is killing our business model

Google and Facebook are responsible for the vast majority of online advertising these days. It’s a serious problem, and a big talking point used to make the previous argument. But would news outlets be that much happier if the ad market was instead split more evenly between other tech platforms, or if Google and Facebook’s market power were lessened through forced breakups into more independent platforms? Not really, unless they happened to own some of those platforms.

I know it feels unfair. Big tech and social media platforms get a lot of breaks. They don’t have to moderate their content, they don’t have to take responsibility when someone uses their platforms for evil, and they don’t have to make guarantees about safety like physical industries do. They don’t even have to produce content themselves, just leeching off the work of others. There are some very real issues that need to be looked at by governments.

But the legacy news media going after Google and Facebook because they make money off sharing links is like radio going after television for stealing their sponsors and evening audiences. You don’t have a legally-enforceable right to your business model.

I’m not a dispassionate bystander in this fight either. My employer is one that would stand to benefit financially from this bill. And I don’t include myself in that horde of people who believe that large newspapers can just die because I’ll get all my news from Twitter instead.

But this is a bandage solution that doesn’t solve the real problem. And creates a few of its own.

Problem 1: Who qualifies as a “digital news intermediary”?

The biggest issue in this law is applicability. Who qualifies on either end of this equation?

On the tech side, it applies to any “digital news intermediary” that makes news content available in which “there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between its operator and news businesses.” The bill helpfully defines what making news content available means:

(a) the news content, or any portion of it, is reproduced; or

(b) access to the news content, or any portion of it, is facilitated by any means, including an index, aggregation or ranking of news content.

The first criterion is pretty simple, though “any portion” isn’t specified. Is it a portion beyond what is considered fair dealing in the Copyright Act? The bill seems to imply not, since it says Copyright Act exceptions don’t limit the scope of deals between tech giants and news outlets. Does it include just headlines and links? Does it include properly attributed quotes? Does it include paraphrasing? Does it include where the owner of the news content explicitly consents to it being reproduced by posting it themselves?

The second criterion is very vague. Does it include all links to news content? Or is it just when news content is excerpted? What constitutes “facilitated”? If you’re an “online communications platform” with significant market power that isn’t explicitly exempted from the law (broadcasters, telecom services, private messaging services) and you “facilitate” access to news content in any way, do you have to reach a deal with news outlets too? The bill says it includes indexes (like Google) and social media (like Facebook) but otherwise leaves it open-ended.

For example, Wikipedia bases most of its articles on primary sources like newspaper stories. If it “facilitates” access via links or paraphrasing the content of news stories, will Wikipedia then have to compensate news organizations?

The law provides for exemptions where an intermediary “has entered into agreements with news businesses that operate news outlets that produce news content primarily for the Canadian news marketplace.” But how many news businesses? All of them? A majority? One? It’s unclear.

Problem 2: Who qualifies as a news outlet?

Until recently, the idea of a journalist or a news outlet wasn’t really codified in the law. This was by design: anyone should be able to practice journalism or disseminate news. It’s part of freedom of expression. In practice, limits have been imposed (on who can be a Parliamentary Press Gallery member, for example, or who gets access to the press box during hockey games), but legally there hasn’t been a distinction between journalist and non-journalist.

The pandemic, and emergency aid to journalism organizations, changed that. The federal government, in order to distinguish who gets funding or tax breaks, created the concept of “qualified Canadian journalism organization” to establish who can qualify.

That definition has a lot of restrictions:

  1. Crown corporations are not eligible
  2. The organization must be Canadian, and legally organized as a corporation, partnership or trust in Canada, with the chairperson and at least 3/4 of the directors Canadian citizens
  3. The content must be “designed, edited, and, except in the case of digital content, published in Canada.”
  4. The organization must produce original news content on an ongoing basis (this definition is intentionally vague)
  5. The news must include “facts and multiple perspectives actively pursued, researched, analyzed, and explained by a journalist for the organization; and produced in accordance with journalistic processes and principles.”
  6. The news must reveal facts not previously known by the public
  7. The news content “must be primarily focused on matters of general interest and reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes.”
  8. The news content “should be diverse and include a variety of content such as local news, national news, international news, social issues (such as health, education, faith and ethics), business and economy, sports, culture, science and technology, and the environment.”
  9. The organization cannot produce content “focusing primarily on industry-specific content”
  10. The writing, editing and formatting must be conducted “by and for the organization.”
  11. The reporting must (should?) be “based on first-hand knowledge” of an event.
  12. The content must not be translated, reproduced or aggregated from “external sources” including other news organizations or press releases.
  13. The organization must commit to “researching and verifying information before publication”
  14. The content must provide consistent rebuttal opportunities and alternate perspectives
  15. The organization “cannot be significantly engaged in the production of content” that promotes its own interests or those of an association or its members.
  16. The organization must regularly employ two or more journalists (full-time or part-time but not freelance) “who deal at arm’s length with the organization in the production of its content.”
  17. Those two journalists can’t be related to the employer by family, marriage or common-law partnership.
  18. The organization must apply for certification and then re-apply if there are any organizational changes.
  19. It’s up to the minister to determine who qualifies, and the minister can revoke that certification.

The Online News Act provides to other ways for a news outlet to qualify for this compensation:

  1. If it “produces news content of public interest that is primarily focused on matters of general interest and reports of current events, including coverage of democratic institutions and processes,” and satisfies three other criteria of QCJOs and one new criterion:
    1. employing two unrelated journalists,
    2. operating in Canada,
    3. producing news content “not primarily focused on a particular topic,”
    4. being a member of “a recognized journalistic association and follows the code of ethics of a recognized journalistic association or has its own code of ethics whose standards of professional conduct require adherence to the recognized processes and principles of the journalism profession, including fairness, independence and rigour in reporting news and handling sources.”
  2. It “operates an Indigenous news outlet in Canada and produces news content that includes matters of general interest, including coverage of matters relating to the rights of Indigenous peoples, including the right of self-government and treaty rights.”

So for non-Indigenous outlets, the easiest way to qualify is through #1 above. These criteria would exclude things like (a) strictly family organizations, one-person organizations and organizations that rely solely on freelancers, (b) foreign organizations, (c) special-interest publications, and (d) those who are not part of an association like a press council, unless they want to try to qualify as a QCJO.

Why these exclusions? Why does a one-person news organization not have the right to be compensated for the “use” of their content? Why does Google and Facebook get to freely “make available” their content without compensation?

Also, what does “not primarily focused on a particular topic” mean, exactly? Does this mean that publications like The Logic, The Hill Times or The Hockey News are ineligible? If so, why? If they employ journalists and follow rigorous codes of ethics, why do they get excluded from this?

And on the other hand, these criteria could be considered too broad for some. Does it include professional blogs, or all those websites and Facebook pages out there that post clickbait content? If they can argue that they qualify, who is going to stop them? And is it right for them to do so?

Probably the biggest problem with all this is that there’s no real process to ensure organizations are respecting these rules. The minister just has to say they are and they qualify. So if a major news organization ignores ethics codes, or very clearly manipulates news stories to match self-interest, or systematically suppress alternative viewpoints, or gets most of its news by regurgitating paraphrased press releases, who will ensure they have their status revoked? The minister?

The most likely answer is the CRTC, which is given the task of administering the day-to-day of all this presumably because it’s the closest thing the government has to a media regulator. But as this Globe and Mail editorial points out, the result would be the CRTC effectively deciding who is and isn’t a legitimate news outlet for the purpose of these agreements. And if these agreements are critical for a publication’s survival, it means the CRTC would become a de facto regulator of newspapers and online news websites, with the power to effectively kill them if they don’t like how they do their journalism. Is that something we really want?

Problem 3: How many deals do we have to sign?

Rather than talk numbers, the law encourages (and if that fails, forces) the big tech companies to reach agreements with news providers over the “use” of their content. It’s a convenient way for the government to kick the can down the road and pretend it’s found a market-based solution to the problem.

This kind of arrangement has some advantages. But the biggest drawback here is that it requires every news outlet to reach separate deals with each “intermediary” company. That sounds like a great solution for lawyers, but not so much for the little guy who would have to negotiate one-on-one with companies we’ve already argued have too much market power as it is.

The law establishes that news providers can come together to negotiate without breaking competition law. But it’s a big assumption that they would do so in a proper way, and such a group would be reasonable in its criteria for admission when restricting membership might be in its own self-interest.

Large media organizations like Postmedia, Quebecor, Bell Media and the CBC will probably be the first to reach deals. But how long for the Winnipeg Free Press? Or The Suburban? Or The 1019 Report? And what if Facebook and Google decide they can’t be bothered negotiating deals with smaller publications so will only share news content from the big guys they’re partnered with?

Problem 4: How do you arbitrate this?

If the deal-making fails, the law provides for binding arbitration regulated by the CRTC. Arbitration, in which a neutral third party imposes an agreement on two disputing parties, makes a lot of sense in certain situations, like labour disputes.

But arbitration works where there are clear principles and precedents to work from. Here, the most contentious deal would be the first one, and there isn’t a lot of precedent to go on.

The law provides for the following factors to be considered by arbitrators:

  1. the value added, monetary and otherwise, to the news content in question by each party, as assessed in terms of their investments, expenditures and other actions in relation to that content;
  2. the benefits, monetary and otherwise, that each party receives from the content being made available by the digital news intermediary in question; and
  3. the bargaining power imbalance between the news business and the operator of the digital news intermediary in question.

Those aren’t bad factors, but as we’ve seen from the arguments laid out, there is a very wide disparity in how the parties evaluate how much value each gets from news content. An arbitrator would have to sort that out.

Even worse, the law provides for final offer arbitration. FOA is a method whereby, instead of figuring out each clause of a proposed contract and what would be most fair, the arbitrator looks at both offers and picks the most reasonable one in its entirety. The advantage is that it gives both parties a strong incentive to be as reasonable-looking as possible. The disadvantage is that if both sides are far apart, it creates a lot of uncertainty on which way the decision will go.

Google says it wanted to have some sort of upper limit on how much it would have to pay news media, and the government refused to give one. No business is going to agree to a potentially limitless drain on their finances.

Problem 5: Who really benefits more?

The entire basis for this law is that Facebook, Google and other websites are parasites that benefit from professional news media. The logic is that without major news organizations, those websites would lose most of their value. Therefore, they should pay up.

But Facebook and Google have both argued that this is not true at all. Instead, they are the ones who provide a significant amount of traffic to news websites, and the impact on them from blocking such links would be minimal, while the impact on the news media would be significant.

We know a large part of traffic to news media comes from social media and Google. More so than other methods. And just take a look at your Facebook feed to get an idea how much of it comes from professional legacy news media. Maybe more than most if you’re a follower of this blog. But is it a majority? Would Facebook really be useless if it disappeared?

There are still plenty of cat videos and acquaintances’ vacation pics to go around. And as for Google, it still has Wikipedia and YouTube to fill its search results pages.

The Australian model

The Online News Act bases itself off the News Media Bargaining Code, an Australian law that also wants big tech to pay news media. The law’s proponents argue Australia’s experience was successful, and that Facebook and Google took a hard line in Australia but eventually decided to pay up, so we should conclude that their current stance is also a bluff.

They point out that a government review has already deemed the code a success and dozens of news companies are signed up.

I’m not so sure.

One difference between the Canadian and Australian models is that in Australia, the government can decide whether to apply the law to a particular web giant. After Facebook reached deals with media outlets, it decided not to. In Canada, there’s no such flexibility, so it automatically applies.

I’m not sure how important that distinction is, but it’s clearly enough for the web giants to stomach what’s going on in Australia.

Perhaps the Online News Act can be modified, or the minister use his powers, to reach some sort of compromise, a workable though imperfect set of deals like they have in Australia. But so long as people have deluded themselves into thinking that Facebook and Google are stealing news content because they need that content to survive, they’ll continue to be convinced that those big companies are bluffing and if we just wait a bit longer, they’ll eventually fold.

And who knows what kind of damage the news will suffer in the meantime.

27 thoughts on “What is the basis for forcing big tech to pay for news?

  1. Mike

    I don’t use FB for news & there are other search engines. Meanwhile we’re losing newspapers and media jobs.

  2. Bobby

    The arrogance of the Liberal Gov’t should be studied by psychologists.

    EVERY single person/entity that works on the Internet TOLD THEM that Google & META would not pay for CDN content. They didn’t care to listen cause they’ve been ‘mandating’ stuff for yrs and CDNs just play along like sheep.

    Well, the farm animals are about to realize how a single Gov’t action can DESTROY the livelihood of an ENTIRE Industry.

    As for media survival, the 80s are OVER!.. most CDN legacy media looked at the Internet as a necessary ‘chore’ they had to accomplish but they NEVER focused on web delivery as the MAIN architect for needed change.

    Most CDNs are tired of funding the CBC or any other media entities: if they can’t survive, they were not meant to survive.

    1. Harvey

      Bobby, you nailed it.
      The nine most dangerous words ever spoken are:
      “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

  3. Bill V Lee

    We await the return of people, and parliament in the fall when we have seen the “Dark Window of News” in real life at the summer retreat, and have yelled at our MPs.

    I hope there is a large reaction to your story, and we get hints/links to the palaver over the remaining summer, and there are many “learn-ed experts” chiming in.

    Keep us posted, Steve.

  4. Devyn

    Very well said. I think the news orgs that lobbied for this have really shot themselves in the foot. That’s a lot of traffic that’s going to evaporate once Meta and Google flip the kill switch.

    Now… Will I have to whip out my credit card to link to your blog on mine???

  5. Anonymous

    Great story Steve. Required reading for the minister and all who want to understand this bill.

  6. TSowell Fan

    Is it just me or is the pan-Canadian VALUE of FREE access to Meta’s and Google’s services being overlooked? How can these much-maligned ‘foreign interlopers’ offer such popular, heavily-used services at no cost? A: Advertising revenues – the same reason that we can watch NHL games ‘for free’ (after paying Bell or Rogers for access, of course. But the same is true of our Internet connections). What would you pay annually for access to Google’s many invaluable apps, including their flagship search tools?

    IMHO, the realities facing Canada’s news outlets will not be solved by bringing the ‘foreign interlopers’ to heel.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      How can these much-maligned ‘foreign interlopers’ offer such popular, heavily-used services at no cost?

      By selling you to advertisers who will pay a premium to target you effectively based on the personal information you willingly or unwillingly share with them.

  7. Scott Murray

    Thanks for explaining in such detail, Steve. I see now where Michael Geist is coming from, arguing how this law is flawed, and it’s too bad they didn’t do a better job. I find it hard to know what should be done, but it’s clear a new model for news gathering and dissemination is needed in Canada. We have already lost a lot of time trying to save the bully whip industry instead of properly reimaging how to save this bedrock institution we rely upon so greatly in a “free and democratic society.” I do think the ISPs should be involved more in this solution, as a start.

  8. Dilbert

    Great article Steve, so many good points and information. The law as written is technically very ignorant of the reality of the situation and really makes a mess of the whole question of indexing for search.

    Google and facebook have different issues, but similar results. As an example, if I want to share a story to my friends on Facebook from the Gazette, I get the link and post it. Facebook will automatically go out and get the first snippet of text and perhaps a reduced sized version of the image that is on that story. You cannot read the story on Facebook, you have to click through to the Gazette site to read it.

    Google indexes the entire internet (good, bad, and ugly). If I search for “Montreal gazette top story” I get many links to the Gazoo, and the text “Stay on top of the trending stories and issues that matter most to Canadians. We bring all of today’s top headlines and stories to your …”. I cannot read the stories on Google, I must go to the website.

    Both have different approaches, but the similar problem.

    For me, both of them are “fair dealing”, providing a small snippet (and perhaps a reduced sized image) that encourages people to actually visit the full website. I think of it as the equivalent of a newspaper stand of old that might let you see a little bit of the front page of the paper but would tut-tut you if you dared to pick it up to read.

    It seems incredibly stupid to ask a search engine or a social media company to pay exorbitant amounts for the joy of sending thousands (if not millions) of people to a news site. It would be like charging a map company for putting “montreal” on a paper map.

    Google and Facebook i think have the right idea. If you don’t want the free visitors (which I am sure companies like Postmedia convert some small percentage into paid subscribers) to look at your pages, your ads, and the like, well… hey, thanks for playing. This law makes it “you link, you pay” and that just isn’t a workable solution. They are right to opt out, news producers have much more to lose than Google and Facebook have to gain.

  9. Kevin

    The main issue is advertising and how it has been utterly and irrevocably changed by the internet giants over the past two decades.

    Money that used to go to small local media around the globe now goes to FB and Google under the notion that they are great at tracking their users and tailoring the ads they see.

    However these companies are also subject to a lot of fraud, and some are outright lying to ad buyers about where their ads end up. Digital ad fraud is estimated to be in the tens of billions per year–money that used to go to local media.

    That is the problem that needs to be solved, and this law doesn’t do it.

  10. Daniel S

    Free linking is, and has always been the foundation of the internet. Any attempt to change that should have been rejected regardless of the stated justification. Although I’m sympathetic to the challenges of the news industry, this heavy-handed internet regulation is a slippery slope no free democracy should allow.

  11. Anonymous

    The dinosaurs of the Canadian main stream media don’t understand why they are disappearing. Which only proves they need to disappear.

    I don’t use Google or Facebook to get my news. I usually have bookmarked links to certain news sites I like to check out daily. I may use a search engine (Google, Bing, Brave, Startpage, DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Swisscows ) to search for stuff. But, those searches leads to links to the actual news sites. So, why the hell should Google pay for suppling search links to to Canadian News sites. Maybe the Canadian news sites should pay Google to put their stories on the top of the search results.

    I have no tears for a-holes of the Canadian main stream media, and the government morons.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      So you do, in fact, use Google to get your news. And while you may not use Facebook for that purpose, we have years of data showing that a large amount of people who go to news websites get there from Facebook.

      1. Anonymous

        Yes, they may get there via a search engine. But, they get to the news site itself. See the ads on that news site. Get the sales pitch to subscribe to the site. It’s up to the news site to retain those readers. Not the search engine.

        If I was at a store, wanting to buy a candy bar, and I go to the candy bar section, and next to the candy bars are the newspapers, and I read the headline, do you demand money from the candy bar company that led you to those newspapers?

        It is up to the news site to convince those potential readers, subscribers, to see worth in their product to pay for it. Not the search engine, nor any product in a physical store.

        Let’s face it. What the industry doesn’t want to talk about is that the product they offer is not worth paying for.

      2. Dilbert

        You have the point right in front of your nose, but fail to grasp it.

        People on face book essentially are chatting with friends. It’s the modern equivalent to the water cooler or sitting around having a beer. One person says “Did you see the story in the Gazette about the cat?” and others say “no, what story”. At which point the person pulls out the copy of the newspaper they had in their bag and shows them the story.

        In modern times, someone posts “check out this stupid cat story” with a link, and people GO TO THE NEWS SITE and read it.

        News sites / papers / tv networks / whatever should be happy as hell that people share links to their content, talk about their content, and drive people to their sites to consume the content. Media companies should be thrilled that companies like Facebook have made the modern version of what people have done for centuries possible, with absolutely no cost to the media companies at all.

        It is a head shaker to think they want to get paid for sending people to see their ads.

  12. John Levine

    If the newspapers are looking for a villain, it’s Craigslist since that’s who killed their long standing cash cow classified ads. Too bad for them Craigslist is a small company that figured out how to run a wildly popular web site on a shoestring by charging for only a small slice of ads (like help wanted in Toronto) and everything else is free.

    This stupid idea failed in Spain, failed in Australia, and will fail in Canada. The only question is how long it’ll take people to figure that out, and whether the government will have the sense to back down. Signs are not encouraging.

  13. Scott Murray

    Craigslist did indeed suck the cash cow of classifieds, but more to the point, news gathering needs some form of stable, unbiased stewardship at all three levels (local, provincial and national), besides the CBC and Radio-Canada.

  14. Paul

    I’ve been trying to understand this issue for a while. First, I use Facebook daily and NEVER see news stories. All I see is posts from friends and groups that I’ve liked or followed, Reels (very annoying, wish I could figure out how to turn them off), and a list of my shortcuts and menu items. In the upper right hand corner of the page, there are two small ads, at the moment, one for tax free cigarettes and another in French for an ad blocking service. That’s it. No other ads…no news.

    If I search “Ontario News” on Google, I get pages of links to news items located on the news organisations’ websites. The link contains some or all of the story headline and sometimes a thumbnail. I can’t consume the news story unless I click on the link which takes me to the news producer’s website. The only advertising on the Google page is a sponsored link from TVO at the bottom of the page.

    Let’s click on a top search result: CTV News. Up comes a large news page full of content. There is a prominent ad for Porter near the top of the page. After that is a bunch of news content and links to other CTV News products. Further down there are six “sponsored” links to lifestyle stories. Then, a ton of local news content.

    So, Google showed me the words: CTV NEWS TORONTO: TORONTO NEWS/BREAKING NEWS… on a page with no ads. I looked at those seven words for one second and then went directly to CTV’s content-filled page where they are free to generate revenue by selling ads and spent ten minutes there looking at content and ads.

    How has Google deprived CTV of revenue? As far as I can tell, Google has done CTV a service by aiding my eyeballs to get to the CTV website faster and easier than me guessing what the correct URL is for the CTV News website, or having to navigate first to a general CTV web page (and I would have to guess at THAT URL!) in order to follow a link to CTV News. Maybe Google behaves differently on my computer than everybody else’s but there is no news on Google, just web links to news providers’ content, content financed by the sale of advertising.

    There’s something fishy about all of this.

  15. Adam Hooper

    Links aren’t free.

    News agencies pay to put links on Google. And Google pays to put links in it’s search results.

    I’m a journalist and web developer. I’ve coded for news agencies: Google News; Facebook Instant Articles; Google AMP; news “snippets” at the top of search results. A news agencies must pay multiple pricy, full-time employees to put links on Google and articles on Facebook. Hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, per publisher.

    Google has paid a lot to show links, too. But there’s a difference: Google has flourished in this relationship. News agencies haven’t.

    I dunno about the merits of C-18. But I sure am happy for a new societal experiment — whether it’s good or bad. Google and news agencies need to set aside their differences and make tons of money together.

    The stakes are low. Nobody’s dismantling the World Wide Web here.

    1. SB

      Sites may pay a search engine like Google to put their links to the top of the search list. But, newspapers and TV stations had to pay for other forms of advertising to get the public to consume their product. Billboards, in-store displays, cross media ads promoting their product. So, how is paying to have your product appear on the first page of your search result any different? Isn’t that the job of the promo / sales department.

      1. Adam Hooper

        > Sites may pay a search engine like Google to put their links to the top of the search list.

        We aren’t talking about sites paying Google. I’m saying sites pay their own web developers, editors and journalists to put their links at the top of the search list. It’s called SEO, and every journalist faces it. (For instance: journalists these days need to provide suggested photos, because Google will list pages that have photos higher.)

        Google says it’s linking for free. I disagree. Everybody pays a lot to improve the Google Search experience — we all pay Google in kind, not in dollars.

        If we were all one big company, what would we think of the complaints that led to C-18? Imagine the journalism department complains that the links department is getting all the budget. Do we need the boss to step in and mediate?

      1. Dilbert

        Yet, they don’t show the content.

        It’s like leeching off of someone next door playing their radio really loud.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *