October 8, 2022
Federal media policy continues to swirl in the tempest of Parliamentary politics.
Yesterday Heritage Committee MPs summoned Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen to explain the government’s role in hiring anti-racism consultant Laith Marouf, the author of a series of Tweets variously described as vile, outrageous, racist and anti-semitic.
I posted a short account of the Committee hearing here, including a selection of Marouf’s most offensive Tweets (be forewarned).
Earlier the Senate held further hearings on Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. This week Senators focussed on a vital policy issue: the unprecedented role that American studio/streamers will play in making Canadian content.
I posted on that here. You can round out your understanding of the fine points with two excellent explainers published in Cartt.ca by Douglas Barrett and Leonard St. Aubin. Also here‘s commentary from Globe film critic Barry Hertz.
This week’s C-11 political drama was Google’s e-mail to 160,000 Canadian YouTubers asking them to sign an online petition against C-11, hosted by Canadian lobby group Open Media (Google is a Platinum donor to Open Media).
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez responded he didn’t much like Big Tech wading into Canadians politics.
Google’s campaign also put a new perspective on Liberal MP Chris Bittle’s provocative decision to file a complaint with the federal Lobby Commissioner against Digital First Canada for failing to make a timely disclosure of its financial backing from Google.
A final highlight on the C-11 hearings for now: Brock University’s Blayne Haggart and two other academics challenged Senators to think about whether the big platforms’ content algorithms are as neutral and untouchable as many are claiming.
Algorithms are curated by the platforms and, in that sense, are privately regulated. As TMU researcher Irene Berkowicz noted in her Google-funded study on YouTube, YouTubers themselves have mixed feelings about the platform’s algorithmic manipulation.
Haggart tweeted the short version of his argument here.
As for the Online News Act Bill C-18, Cartt.ca published a two–part post by Internet Society VP Konrad Von Finckenstein with his fix-it list for the pay-for-news-content legislation that awaits further hearing dates at the Heritage Committee.
A report published by the Parliamentary Budget Officer stated that C-18 will result in compensation for news organizations at the rate of 30% of editorial costs.
That estimate does not rely on any new data but cites the round-figure previously stated by Australian Competition Commissioner Rod Sims.