February 24, 2024

Google Strikes Deal with Canada to Avert News Blackout

Google has reached a historic agreement with the Canadian government to pay an annual amount of CAD $100 million to a fund to support local publishers amidst controversies between social media platforms and news publishers sharing revenue for impressions.

The C-18 law, passed in June 2023, makes it mandatory for digital platforms to compensate news publications for the content shared on their platforms.

Amidst mounting tensions over the C-18 law in Canada, this development marks a significant shift in the ongoing global debate over news outlets and tech giants.

Interestingly, Google’s stance on news publication on its platform is different from that adopted by Meta, which decided to prevent Canadian publishers from sharing their content on Facebook and Instagram.

Following Meta’s decision to pull news content from its platforms in Canada, several local publications have been struggling for greater reach and visibility since they were primarily reliant on Meta’s platforms for distribution.

Google has developed a more collaborative approach, supporting technology and journalism. As per the agreement, Google will contribute to a fund meant to support local publishers. The final regulations will be formally published on 19th December, as announced by the Canadian government.

Kent Walker, Google’s President of Global Affairs, seemed satisfied with the commitment of the government to address the issues concerning Bill C-18.

While we work with the government through the exemption process based on the regulations that will be published shortly, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers.Kent Walker

Google’s Masterstroke Eliminates the Individual Negotiation Model

Interestingly, Google departed from the individual model of negotiating with each publisher with this decision to coordinate with the Canadian government over the C-18 law.

The CAD $100 million annual contribution is lower by 41% compared to the amount suggested previously.

Rather than getting into agreements with publishers individually, Google decided to coordinate with a collective platform.

This further streamlines content distribution on its platforms for eligible news publishers. This is based on the number of full-time or equivalent journalists working on their platforms. Further clarification is awaited on how this model will operate.

Meta, on the other hand, decided to block news publications from reaching users in Canada last June and started incorporating the change in August. Back then, Google had also stated that it would remove the links of news websites in Canada from its search engine.

However, Google decided to go the other way around, striking a deal that supports healthy journalism.

The Agreement Addresses The Main Concern Regarding C-18

Google’s agreement also addresses one of its main concerns regarding the C-18 law. The company argued that the law makes it necessary to make payments based on individual links to news pieces. However, this deal with the Canadian government now streamlines the process.

The collaborative model sets a path for other social media platforms to follow. As the Canadian government braces up to finalize the regulations by December 19, the tech community will be keenly watching how the developments take shape.

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