THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay-area MP insists an agreement between the federal and government to settle a dispute over payment for local news is a good thing.
“Journalism in Canada is an essential and core component of keeping elected officials on record and accountable.”
That quote comes from Patty Hajdu, the Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North as the federal government and Google have come to terms on an agreement in their dispute over the Online News Act.
The framework would see the technology giant continue to share Canadian news online in return for the company making annual payments to news companies in the range of $100 million.
“This is also a win for small communities like Thunder Bay, who has a thriving news community that is often times locally owned in many cases, and very important to the constituents that I represent,” Hajdu said.
“Like any negotiations, you go in with a target in mind and I think the negotiations were fierce and important. If you recall, we were having a different conversation about a year ago where [some] weren't sure that this was worth the battle. [But] I’m really thrilled that places like Dougall Media and Acadia Broadcasting, [and all of the other] independent news sources in Thunder Bay-Superior North are now going to see a piece of that pie.”
Google would still be required to negotiate with the media and sign an agreement.
Hajdu stressed that local news outlets would be further at risk of failing if the government did not get involved.
"Government has the power and might to be able to work with companies like [Google and Meta] to ensure that they are paying their fair share," Hajdu said. "The process of distributing that fair share will go through an independent body. The CRTC and government doesn't get a dollar of that money.”
"Any government that says that independent, small community journalism isn't important has an agenda. Our government [recognizes] the freedom of the press [and that they have] the money to survive. We're holding Facebook and Google and other companies like that accountable to be essentially not stealing the work of journalism at the ground level, but rather paying for that important work and being a partner in ensuring a free independent press.”
Ottawa had estimated that Google's compensation should amount to about $172 million while the company estimated the value at $100 million.