Vancouver, BC – August 31, 2023 – Gradually, the reality is setting in that the links and images I once freely shared on my “Germans in Vancouver Facebook Page” will no longer be shareable. It’s disheartening to acknowledge that both Westcoast German News and European News will also soon vanish over the next few months, as we have been caught up in Canadian political events beyond our control.
While my blog will continue to exist, there’s uncertainty surrounding the fate of my Facebook pages. All of this is a consequence of the Online News Act, also known as Bill C18. This legislation is impacting not only major news outlets like CBC, Global News, or CTV but also smaller entities like my Westcoast German News Blog, now categorized as “Canadian News” under the new regulations.
It all started when Bill C18 was passed in June 22, 2023, only I wasn’t on top of it at the time, as I was busy with life, and summer activities.
Canada’s System of Justice described it like this: “Many Canadians access news content through digital intermediaries. Bill C-18 would enact the Online News Act (the Act), which proposes a regime to regulate digital platforms that act as intermediaries in Canada’s news media ecosystem in order to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market. The Bill introduces a new bargaining framework intended to support news businesses to secure fair compensation when their news content is made available by dominant digital news intermediaries and generates economic gain.
It seeks to support balanced negotiations between the businesses that operate dominant digital news intermediaries and the businesses responsible for the news outlets that produce this news content. If one party initiates it, a final offer arbitration process would be used as a last resort to address scenarios in which negotiated agreements are not reached. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the Commission) would support and oversee the administration of the regime.”
CTV posted the results of an Angus Reid, a public opinion research foundation, poll on this topic, where they asked 1,610 Canadians for their opinion, which is supposed to represent all of Canada. All I know is that I was not one of the Canadians consulted.
Based on the report’s findings, it becomes evident that the Canadian public holds nuanced perspectives on the relationship between tech companies, news organizations, and government intervention. Let’s delve deeper into these insights:
- Compensation for News Content?
- A significant 61 per cent of Canadians are in favor of tech companies compensating Canadian news organizations for their content. This statistic highlights a growing recognition of the value that news outlets bring to the digital landscape. It also underscores a desire to ensure the sustainability of journalism, particularly in the face of challenges posed by the digital age.
But: there is a difference between me sharing a link and writing a full-blown article on Facebook, who relies on user-generated content and doesn’t write content of its own most of the time.
- Concerns Over Information Access:
- Conversely, a substantial 63 per cent express concerns about the potential loss of access to Canadian news on their preferred platforms, such as Facebook and Google. This concern is understandable, as these platforms have become primary sources of information for many Canadians. It reflects a broader worry about the impact of any regulatory actions on the availability of news content.
I can no longer share blog posts online as they are considered “Canadian News” on the same level as CBC, Global News and CTV etc. even though their annual budget is millions and mine… is not.
- Government’s Role and Public Opinion:
- Public sentiment regarding the government’s role in this battle between news organizations and tech giants is divided. Roughly 49 per cent of respondents believe that the federal government should “back down” from its confrontation with these companies. This perspective likely arises from concerns about the potential side effects of government intervention, including impacts on information accessibility and platform functionality.
If all tech companies lash back like Facebook, Canadian bloggers might soon be invisible on a global scale on Instagram Youtube Google etc.
- Debate and Scrutiny
- In contrast, 26 per cent of respondents support the government’s decision to “stand firm” in its efforts. This group appears to prioritize the principles of equitable compensation for content creators and a sustainable news industry, even if it entails some short-term disruptions. They may believe that asserting these principles now is essential to ensure a vibrant and reliable news ecosystem in the long run. However, it’s worth noting that the potential consequences and trade-offs of such a stance, including possible impacts on information access, remain subjects of ongoing debate and scrutiny.
Why doesn’t someone ask me or any of the other small teeny tiny blogs that have been caught up in this battle and are suffering “collateral damage” in the digital landscape right now!
- Thoughtful and Inclusive Dialogue
- Twenty-five per cent of respondents remain uncertain about the best course of action in this intricate issue. This uncertainty underscores the nuanced nature of balancing the interests of tech giants, news organizations, and the public’s right to access information freely. It reflects the complexity of the challenges at hand and suggests that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The uncertainty among this segment of respondents highlights the need for thoughtful and inclusive dialogue among stakeholders to navigate this evolving landscape while preserving the core principles of journalism and information access.
Apparently this matter won’t be resolved until a minimum December 2023 or as late as December 2026 when the CRTC finally agrees to build some kind of framework supporting this bill.
In conclusion, these findings emphasize the necessity for a nuanced and well-balanced approach to address the evolving dynamics of digital news consumption in Canada. The challenge involves not only economic considerations but also the broader implications for information accessibility and the sustainability of the media industry. It calls for careful navigation of the complex intersection between technology, journalism, and public interests. Because right now, it seems to be only going after Westcoast German News and other small bloggers, who are caught up in political circumstances they can’t control.
We haven’t even talked about Bill C11 and the Online Streaming Act. I am just going to write some generic feelings about Canadian Government/Trudeau/Liberals and what it can mean to all small bloggers, influencers and content creators in 2023:
Losing your blog livelihood due to new Canadian government bills and legislation can be a distressing experience. Government regulations and legislation can have various impacts on bloggers and online content creators, depending on their nature and intent. Here’s a hypothetical scenario illustrating the potential challenges you might face:
Scenario: Impact of New Canadian Government Legislation on a Blog
1. Content Regulation: The Canadian government introduces legislation aimed at regulating online content, particularly focusing on issues like hate speech, misinformation, and copyright violations. As a blogger, you might find that some of your past content, which may not comply with these new regulations, could face removal or restrictions. This could result in a loss of traffic and revenue.
2. Compliance Costs: To adhere to these new regulations, you might need to invest in tools, resources, or legal counsel to ensure your content aligns with the law. These compliance costs can strain your budget, especially if your blog operates on a tight financial margin.
3. Decreased Monetization Opportunities: If the legislation affects online advertising or affiliate marketing practices, it could lead to reduced monetization opportunities for your blog. Advertisers might be more cautious about partnering with content that falls under these regulations.
4. Access to Information: Depending on the legislation’s scope, there might be a push for greater transparency from online platforms. This could lead to changes in algorithms or content ranking systems, potentially impacting your blog’s visibility and discoverability.
5. Legal Challenges: If your content inadvertently violates the new laws, you might face legal challenges, including fines or the need to remove and edit content retroactively. These legal battles can be financially and emotionally draining.
6. Adaptation and Innovation: In response to the changing regulatory landscape, you’ll need to adapt and innovate. This could involve shifting your content strategy, focusing on compliance, and exploring alternative revenue streams.
7. Advocacy and Engagement: To protect your blog and the broader online content creator community, you might consider engaging in advocacy efforts, joining industry associations, or participating in public discussions about the impact of these bills and legislation.
8. Collaboration and Networking: Collaborating with fellow bloggers and content creators to share experiences and strategies for navigating these changes can be invaluable.
In summary, the effects of new Canadian government bills and legislation on your blog can be multifaceted, ranging from content restrictions to financial challenges. Navigating this terrain will require adaptability, compliance, and, potentially, advocacy efforts to protect your livelihood as a blogger. It’s important to stay informed about legislative developments and seek legal counsel or professional advice if needed to ensure your blog’s sustainability.
From An Open Media Article: (link shared below):
- The short answer – yes. Like Bill C-10, Bill C-11 gives the CRTC unprecedented regulatory authority to monitor all online audiovisual content. This power extends to penalizing content creators and platforms and through them, content creators that fail to comply.
- In Bill C-11, Section 4(1) establishes a limited exception from regulation for some types of online audiovisual content. Unfortunately, most audiovisual content will still be subject to CRTC regulation under the current draft of the bill.
- Why? Section 4.2(2) re-establishes CRTC regulation of most audiovisual content at the CRTC’s discretion, based on three criteria:
- Whether the content generates revenue for someone, indirectly or directly;
- Whether any part of the content has been broadcast on a more traditional broadcasting platform;
- Whether the content has been assigned a “unique identifier” under any international standards system.
- Guess what? Most content on the Internet generates revenue for someone, somewhere – and has unique identifiers tagged to content. As a result, most online audiovisual content is still at risk of being regulated and taxed by the CRTC. The government is promising to apply further limitations to this power via a policy direction from Cabinet after C-11 passes. But a policy direction can be amended or replaced by a new direction at any time. This is not a binding defence of our content like restrictions within C-11 would be. This government or a future government could decide to use the CRTC’s new powers to start regulating or limiting user online posts, and it would all be entirely legal.
It’s worth remembering that Canadian digital creators are telling our cultural stories on new non-broadcast Internet platforms every day. As such, they should be equal recipients of any dedicated Canadian storytelling funding, but excluded from top-down broadcasting standards regulation. Bill C-11 does the opposite: applying outdated broadcasting standards and financial regulations to their work, without updating CanCon to support them financially.
- Many small digital creators may be regulated as producing ‘broadcast’ content: C-11 attempts to distinguish between “professional” and “amateur” content based on an unspecified quota for how much money a creator makes, how much money creators generate from a certain platform, what kind of brand deals creators are involved in, etc. As written, C-11’s baseline assumption is that small digital creators are not professional enough to be regulated.
- The new CanCon requirements will make it nearly impossible for independent creators to benefit from any financial or promotional gain from CanCon: Rather than having diverse voices on the Internet, C-11 would penalize the success that creators generate. Many independent creators post on multiple channels to enhance their discoverability and showcase their work to different demographic bases. This common practice would subject content creators to C-11 regulation. If their content does not meet CanCon requirements, their overall discoverability is affected on all channels they use for their work.
- Prove you’re “Canadian” enough or watch your views drop: Bill C-11 establishes a two-tier system for Canadian creators. Those who find algorithmically manipulating content to be categorized as CanCon will mean those creators who don’t meet CanCon requirements will be pushed down on feeds, while those that do meet the requirements will be prioritized.
- But being “CanCon” isn’t necessarily a good thing: There’s a trap hidden in the new CanCon system. The CRTC can force content into our feeds – but it can’t force us to watch or enjoy it. When users are presented with content but don’t stick with it, though, algorithms understandably penalize that content and are less likely to show it to other users. Now consider that most content creators aren’t necessarily creating content for the purpose of it being “Canadian”, and their audience may be primarily made up of viewers in the U.S, EU, Asia and the rest of the world. For these creators, having their content presented to Canadian viewers that aren’t interested or engaged by it would be a net drag, hurting their ranking with their global audience.
The real motive of the Online Streaming Act is simple; streaming platforms and creators on them are bringing in more and more revenue, and legacy media wants a piece of the pie.
Promoting Canadian content and telling our stories is a worthy objective of government policy: but only if it respects our choices and supports all Canadian storytellers equally.
Read the whole article here while you still can! https://openmedia.org/article/item/whats-wrong-with-bill-c-11-an-faq
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