CWA Canada and the world’s largest journalist organization are appealing directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make tech giants such as Facebook and Google share advertising revenues with news outlets in this country.
Martin O’Hanlon, writing on the behalf of both the media union he leads and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), says in a letter sent today that the two companies “control over 80 per cent of Canada’s $6-billion online advertising market, yet they pay no taxes and they pay nothing for the content they use.”
“For far too long, they have been earning money by linking to stories from Canadian news companies without compensation. It is simply not fair. They should be paying for copyrighted content.”
What’s even more troubling, writes O’Hanlon, is the fact that “as these companies have raked in tens of billions of dollars over the years, thousands of Canadian media workers have been laid off and hundreds of Canadian publications have closed. It’s bad for journalism, bad for communities, and bad for our democracy.”
“We call on your government to follow the lead of Australia and France, which are set to make digital companies pay for content use,” says the letter.
The IFJ is heading up a global initiative to save independent journalism during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is urging governments to “immediately open negotiations with the GAFAM — Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft — to collect a tax on revenues generated within their national territory. This strategic taxation should be used to support journalism in the aftermath of the pandemic.”
O’Hanlon thanks Trudeau for the government’s support for news media during the pandemic, which has many companies fighting for their survival, “but we need to solve the ad revenue problem for the long-term health of the industry.”
The IFJ says it launched its Global Platform for Quality Journalism because “we want … the tech giants to pay their fair share — for tax justice. They are news publishers and should be regulated and taxed as news publishers. We believe a digital services tax could generate a huge amount of money which can help both independent journalism survive in the face of the crisis and help build a new model of independent journalism in which information is not a commodity to be bought and sold by hedge funds and corporations, but is a right which should be available to all communities.
“At the moment, Google and Facebook are trying to portray themselves as saints and saviours by handing out grants to selected media. We don’t want the crumbs from their table. We want them to pay their fair share.”