As the Liberal government and tech giants go head-to-head over the future of digital Canadian news, many Canadians worry about losing access to news on their go-to platforms, according to a new survey.
Last month, Bill C-18 became law in Canada. The bill, commonly known as the Online News Act, requires companies such as Meta and Google to compensate Canadian media publications for making news content available on their platforms.
Although the law is not yet in effect, Meta and Google immediately responded by saying they will block Canadian news content from their websites, as per their warning issued while the bill was being discussed.
Now, Canadians are concerned about what this means for their news consumption with some pushing back against the bill, according to a new report from the Angus Reid Institute.
According to the report, 61 per cent of Canadians, agree tech companies should compensate Canadian news organizations for their content. However, a similar amount, 63 per cent, are concerned about losing access to Canadian news on their go-to platforms like Facebook and Google. As a result, about 49 per cent say the federal government should “back down” in its battle against the tech giants, 26 per cent say they should “stand firm” and 25 per cent are unsure about the best path forward.
According to the report, Canadians aged 64 and older are most likely to visit Canadian news sites to consume news before looking elsewhere. Yet, the rest of the population prefer to check social media sites like Facebook and Reddit first to get their news.
GOOGLE AND FACEBOOK DOMINATE THE DIGITAL SPACE
According to Angus Reid, 85 per cent of Canadians do not pay for any online news subscription. The non-profit says Canadian media companies have become more reliant on internet ad revenues as traditional subscription and advertising revenues dropped over time.
The issue with that reliance, according to the report, is the digital market is dominated by tech giants like Meta. In Canada, Google and Facebook receive 80 per cent of digital advertising revenue.
Last year, Meta made more than $23 billion in profit and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, made close to $60 billion in profit, according to the report.
Angus Reid says 82 per cent of Canadians agree “too few tech companies have too much power over the internet.”
SHOULD COMPANIES PAY FOR CANADIAN NEWS?
The report states just over half of Canadians (54 per cent) are talking about the new law and the response from Meta and Google with family and friends, but not everyone feels the same way about the situation.
Half of men aged 35 to 54 believe tech companies should not pay to access Canadian news.
On the contrary, older Canadians, especially women over the age of 54, believe news companies should be compensated somehow when content appears on Google or Facebook.
According to the survey, 42 per cent of respondents believe Google and Meta should pay an annual fee, while 20 per cent said the tech giants should pay every time a Canadian news link is clicked on their platforms.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from July 4-6, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,610 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.
Source: CTV News