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CBC, media groups ask Competition Bureau to investigate Meta's move to block news in Canada

Updated: Aug 9, 2023



OTTAWA —Canadian media organizations, including CBC/Radio-Canada, have united in urging Canada's Competition Bureau to investigate Meta Platforms' recent move to block news content on its Canadian digital platforms. This action, perceived as "anticompetitive," is a response to the Online News Act (Bill C-18), which Meta claims it is complying with. However, critics argue that this move undermines competition and harms Canadian journalism.


Meta, the parent company of platforms like Facebook and Instagram, announced the permanent discontinuation of news availability for Canadian users due to Bill C-18. This legislation has ignited debates in the digital news landscape, with critics, including Meta and Google, labeling it as unfair and equating it to a tax on links.


The joint effort by CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and News Media Canada asserts that Meta's decision is a calculated strategy to limit the presence of Canadian news companies on its platforms. They contend that this move serves to enhance Meta's advertising dominance and social media distribution while marginalizing Canadian news providers.


The legacy media players have thrown their support behind Bill C-18, advocating for a fairer digital news market and addressing the disproportionate influence wielded by tech giants like Meta and Google, which have significantly disrupted the advertising industry and, in turn, impacted newsrooms.


In response, Meta attributes its decision to the perceived flaws in the Online News Act and asserts that its actions are a reasonable response to the legislative environment. However, News Media Canada's CEO has characterized Meta's move as abusing its market power and invoked Section 79 of the Competition Act, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation.


The media industry's plea for investigation isn't limited to the Competition Bureau alone. They have also called for Canadian businesses and governments to cease advertising on Meta's platforms, further escalating the scrutiny on the tech giant's practices.


CBC/Radio-Canada views the Online News Act as a significant step towards leveling the playing field in an arena where Facebook and Google currently dominate the lion's share of digital ad revenue. This legislation aims to empower Canadian news providers and restore the digital news ecosystem balance.


As the debate rages on, Canadian media groups are seeking tighter regulations to address internet giants' sway over the advertising landscape. Google's parallel plans to block news in Canada under similar circumstances only amplify the urgency of this issue.


 

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