Canada’s Online News Act is angering Meta and Google. Here’s a timeline on how we got here.

By Gabby Miller

October 31, 2022

As part of our ongoing platforms and publishers research, the Tow Center is tracking Canada’s Online News Act, or Bill C-18, as it advances through parliament. The bill, which is modeled after Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, would require digital platforms who benefit from distributing news publishers’ content to share their revenues with news businesses. To better understand these legislative developments and the lobbying efforts that have shaped the bill, Tow is providing the following database and timelines for historical context, and to illustrate the relationship between platforms–Google and Meta (formerly Facebook)–and Canadian publishers.

Tow has organized publicly available data into a searchable table that shows all major initiatives that the Google News Initiative and Meta Journalism Project have implemented in Canada. Nearly all the platforms’ programs are accompanied by funding, however, due largely to non-disclosure agreements that prevent publishers from disclosing the amount of a grant, many of the award totals are listed as “unknown” in our database.

The visual timeline shows how Google’s and Meta’s respective support has fluctuated as threats of regulatory intervention mount in Canada. This gives some weight to the argument that the “philanthropy” of the platforms is a lobbying tactic, aimed at holding back further legislation.

If you notice any information missing from our database or timeline, please email us at towcentercuj@gmail.com

Note: The embedded timelines are best viewed on the Chrome web browser.

Made withVisme Infographic Maker

 

Made withVisme Infographic Maker

 

UPDATES: Meta’s first overall Accelerator program exclusive to Canadian publishers was in May 2019, not Feb. 2022 as previously stated. The Feb. 2022 program was Meta’s first reader revenue-focused Accelerator with all-Canadian participants. 

A Meta spokesperson provided additional context after publication via email by directing Tow to a list of ways it supports news in Canada and its key takeaways from these efforts. This list was published on May 12, 2022, or a little over a month after the Online News Act was formally introduced. 

A Google News Initiative spokesperson also clarified that its News Showcase deals pay publishers to curate their content on Google News and Discover, rather than require partners provide access to select paywalled content, as previously stated. The latter is true but only for only some participating partners. The infographic has been updated to reflect this change.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Gabby Miller is a senior reporting fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. She currently leads the platforms and publishers project but has also covered the business of news extensively for Tow.