STEPH WECHSLER | J-Source
[~] The long-awaited Canadian journalism industry bailout has arrived. But there are no further details about the composition of the independent panel tasked with determining eligibility for various incentives accompanying the package, which was first announced last November in Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fall economic statement.
Morneau’s budget did, however, prescribe that only general interest publications will be eligible for federal funds or incentives, meaning any specialized publication covering topics such as lifestyle, sports or the arts won’t have access to the programs. Nor will broadcasters that don’t focus exclusively on journalistic content.
In addition, any publication that’s received assistance from the Canadian Periodical Fund’s Aid to Publishers program in the same year won’t be eligible for these government incentives.
The measures, which include refundable labour tax credits covering part of employee salaries, eligibility for nonprofit status and tax credits for digital news subscriptions, may be awarded to what the budget refers to as Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations, or QCJOs, to be determined by the panel. Morneau’s budget does outline that qualifying corporations must be Canadian-owed, with a minimum 75 per cent of their directors being Canadian citizens.
Most signs point toward the package benefiting legacy news corporations, which at present would be more likely to have the management and board structure required by the budget “to ensure that registered journalism organizations are not used to promote the views or objectives of any particular person or related group of persons,” such as the requirements that they have an arms length board of directors or trustees.