Google has announced that it will pay $1-billion globally to news publishers over the next three years – including Canadian partners – as part of a venture called Google News Showcase.
The Showcase plan is an extension of a Google licensing program announced in June for Germany, Australia and Brazil. Google named two Canadian partners Thursday: Village Media Inc., a Toronto company that owns local websites in 17 small Ontario cities and communities; and Narcity Media Inc., which describes itself as “Canada’s leading Gen Z and millennial publisher.”
Google’s program comes as Canada’s largest publishers continue to press the federal government for help as Google and Facebook grab the lion’s share of digital advertising. Traditional newspaper companies were already struggling with a decline in print subscriptions and advertising. Canadian newspaper companies, unlike those south of the border, also face digital-news competition from a heavily subsidized federal entity, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
In August, Torstar, which publishes the Toronto Star, ended more than 100 years of family control when it was sold to NordStar Capital LP, an entity formed by financiers Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett, for $60-million. On Thursday, the Star said Mr. Bitove would become publisher of the newspaper, replacing John Boynton.
Mr. Boynton remains president and chief executive of Torstar, company spokesman Bob Hepburn said. “Torstar is reverting to its previous decades-old practice of having a separate Torstar president and a separate Star publisher,” he said in an e-mail.
Torstar also has reversed its decision to send 24 jobs at the Hamilton Spectator classified call centre to the United States, according to Unifor, the union that represents the workers. Earlier this month, Torstar said the eight full-time and 16 part-time positions would move to Buffalo, N.Y., as of Oct. 19. Unifor said Mr. Bitove and Mr. Rivett decided to cancel a move that was initiated by previous ownership.
Separately, spokesman Stuart Laidlaw says Unifor has submitted an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to represent the staff at Postmedia Inc.'s National Post.
Media in Canada, a website that publishes news about the media industry, reported this week that Postmedia, which also owns newspapers in Canada’s major cities, laid off a number of graphic artists and page designers. Media in Canada said Postmedia would not say how many jobs were lost or whether they occurred in other departments as well.
A Postmedia spokeswoman confirmed the report late Thursday.
In May, the CEOs or publishers of 10 companies originally built from newspaper properties – including Torstar and Postmedia – called on Ottawa to “follow the lead of France and Australia” and find a way to force the new-media giants to “pay for copyrighted content and shar[e] the advertising dollars and data that flow from it.”
To date, that effort has not borne fruit.
The federal government has been slowly rolling out its $595-million news-industry aid package, announced in 2018, and media companies have also participated in the COVID-19 business wage-subsidy programs.
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