CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon welcomed today’s news that Ottawa will direct $30-million in COVID-19 ad spending to Canadian media in order to support journalism during the pandemic, but said more needs to be done urgently.
“Many of our employers are reporting that ad sales have dropped by over 80 per cent, and some have announced major temporary layoffs,” O’Hanlon said.
“This is hurting news coverage in communities already woefully underserviced. At a time of crisis like this, we need more local news, not less.”
“We need the government to allow immediate access to at least some of the $595-million media bailout fund.”
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced on Twitter that the independent panel that will decide who qualifies for the bailout money “is now in place. It’s job: find the best way to help our newspapers through our tax system.” He gave no indication of when any of that funding would appear.
The Canadian Press reported that the “measures were widely criticized as too little to make a real difference.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his morning press briefing that Guilbeault would provide details of the “new measures” the federal government would take to keep journalists working and reporting on the COVID-19 crisis.
“Right now, it is more important than ever that Canadians have access to the latest news and information,” Trudeau said. “To ensure that journalists can continue to do this vital work, our government is announcing new measures to support them.”
A news release issued by Canadian Heritage contained only information about the advisory board that would make recommendations about the bailout fund.
It was on Twitter that Guilbeault revealed the $30-million in “ad placements as part of the Health Canada” COVID-19 campaign. “The vast majority of these ads will be directed to Canadian media. Let’s continue to raise awareness and support our media at the same time.”