Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said forcing tech companies to share ad dollars with Canadian media outlets is not a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite calls from news publishers to require Facebook and Google to “pay their fair share” amidst an industry-wide drop in revenue.
Mr. Trudeau appeared on the influential Quebec talk show Tout le monde en parle on Sunday, and was asked about an open letter published the day before by a group of prominent Canadian newspaper executives asking for financial help during the economic shutdown.
The group, which includes Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley, urged Ottawa to follow the recent example of France and Australia in forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news displayed on their platforms but produced by local outlets.
“The model exists. The need is clear. Let’s apply those principles of fairness in Canada, and do it now,” the executives wrote.
Mr. Trudeau declined to commit to the particular aid measures when pressed by Tout le monde en parle host Guy Lepage on Sunday.
“We made commitments during the election that we would look at that, that we will bring in measures in co-ordination with the global community to ensure a better balance,” he said. “It’s not our priority right now, with COVID."
Industry groups have long warned that the migration of advertising revenue from content producers to Silicon Valley giants has hurt the news business and helped hollow out newsrooms.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic shutdown have accelerated the industry’s financial crisis as advertising plummets.
Last month, a French antitrust regulator ordered Google’s parent company to pay publishers in the country for snippets of their articles that appear on its platforms. Also in April, the Australian government announced it would force Google and Facebook to share the ad revenue they derived from news stories with local media outlets.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.