November 28, 2021
While the CRTC Rogers-Shaw hearing was the big show in town, elsewhere lots was going on in Mediaville:
The Platforms on the far side of the world. There were two interesting international developments concerning the issue of Google and Facebook paying for news content.
In Australia a group of small publishers are banging on the door to negotiate revenue sharing with Google and Facebook. Calling themselves the Public Interest Publishers Alliance, 18 niche and ethnic news organizations have applied for “collective bargaining” certification under the Media Bargaining Code that relaxes the usual rules against commercial collusion and allows them to bring Google and Facebook to the table. This follows on the recent developments under Australia’s Platform Bill in which Facebook has refused to bargain with the investigative news site The Conversation and ethnic TV broadcaster SBS.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government is publicly speculating about following the Australian example by passing a Platform Bill. With a population of nearly 275 million, an Indonesian initiative will grab the attention of Silicon Valley and perhaps set an example for other non G-20 nations.
The Netflix Bill is back. The federal Liberals announced in the Throne Speech that Bill C-10 is back on the menu. Canadian Press published an article restricted to comments from opponents and critics of the last Bill that was ground to dust by Conservative filibusters in the Commons Heritage Committee and the Senate.
C-10 has rock solid support in Quebec and with the Bloc. The NDP supported C-10 last time but was vague in its election platform commitment, while MP Charlie Angus has made some spirited attacks that make the NDP approach to C-10 unclear for now.
#JournalismIs and the RCMP isn’t. The Mounties’ arrest, imprisonment, and release of two Canadian journalists covering the Wet’suwet’en blockade protest near Prince George, British Columbia was yet another leaden touch from a police force that respects neither freedom of the press nor recent judicial precedent making it very clear that journalists are not breaking the law while reporting on those who may be breaking the law.
The police force also appeared to have lied when issuing a statement that the journalists had not identified themselves immediately, contradicted by video evidence posted on Twitter.
Out of jail, photojournalist Amber Bracken made a couple of good points. While she was glad to be out of custody, she was uncomfortable taking the spotlight away from the land claim and Indigenous sovereignty issues she was covering. Secondly, she pointed out that news covered by financially-precarious freelancers is especially vulnerable to the RCMP’s tactics, she was just lucky that the editors of The Narwhal stuck with her.
Trolls Unmasked? In the media regulation Petri dish that is Australia, the Morrison government has announced legislation providing a legal process for anyone who believes they’ve been defamed by anonymous trolls on social media to compel the Platforms to unmask the troll or accept liability as the responsible publisher of the defamation. While this might be hailed as a victory over cowardly trolls, it appears to let the Platforms off the hook after a ruling by the Australian High Court imposing what lawyers call absolute liability on You Tube for defamatory comments posted to its site.
#SaveLocalNews: Aid to News Journalism Passes the US House of Representatives. A journalist subsidy similar to the Canadian program has been passed by the House as part of President Joe Biden’s two-trillion dollar Infrastructure and Climate Change Bill and is headed to the Senate.
The subsidy would apply only to local news and would pay $25,000 per journalist in the first year of a five-year program, then $15,000 subsequently.
The Wall Street Journal, a nationally focussed news site owned by Fox News, said the Bill “calls on the American taxpayer to subsidize Democrats’ media allies.”