(LifeSiteNews) — The Trudeau government’s Online News Act could see the taxpayer-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) receive more than $150 million as a result of mandated deals signed with Big Tech.
According to a recent analysis by Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) vice-chair Peter Menzies, the mandated payouts to news media under the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18, could see the CBC – which already receives over a billion dollars from taxpayers annually – receive $172 million in compelled payments from social media companies like Meta and Google.
“I’m a big fan of having a public broadcaster, but not a large commercial competitor eating everybody else’s lunch,” Menzies told the Globe and Mail.
Menzies estimated that the CBC will receive the most funding under the new act since it has the largest number of employees. According to its 2020-2021 annual report, the CBC receives about $1.24 billion in public funding every year, which is roughly 70 percent of its operating budget.
Canada’s Senate passed the Online News Act, or Bill C-18, in June and it quickly became law. The new law, when fully implemented, will force social media companies to pay Canadian legacy media for news content shared on their platforms.
According to the draft regulations, compensation for news links shared on the social media platforms will be given to media corporations based on how many full-time staff members they have employ.
University of Ottawa internet law expert Michael Geist explained that the act is written to give most of the generated funds to large mainstream media companies, while smaller independent media outlets will see little to no benefit.
“On the relative compensation issue it’s a clear advantage for the CBC and other big broadcasters, but the smaller players – hundreds of independent media outlets – will lose out,” said Geist.
While the law has yet to take effect, Canadians are already blocked from viewing or sharing news on Facebook and Instagram as parent company Meta announced it would rather remove news for Canadians than pay the fees outlined in the new law.
While Google has yet to censor content for Canadians, the company previously announced it would also prefer removing links to Canadians rather than pay the fees.
The law itself has been a point of major criticism for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. In fact, a July 10 survey found that most Canadians are concerned they could lose access to news on social media as a result of the policy.