Corus joins growing Canadian boycott of Meta over news blocking – National

Corus Entertainment says it is suspending advertising on Meta platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, over that company’s response to Bill C-18, better known as the Online News Act.

The move marks the latest in a row that has seen Meta and Alphabet’s Google announce plans to block Canadian news content on their platforms over the legislation, which has been billed as a way to help a media sector that has seen billions of dollars in advertising revenue siphoned to online tech giants over recent years.

Bill C-18 forces big internet companies and streaming platforms to compensate Canadian news outlets for content appearing on their platforms.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) is happy to see media companies standing up to big tech with advertising boycotts, saying the future of journalism in Canada is at stake.

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“I think one of the things that you have to recognize right now is that, you know, it’s probably close to 70 per cent of advertising in Canada is going to these foreign digital players. And that’s money that is just being funneled directly out of our economy,” CAB president Kevin Desjardins said.

“So, you know, if you take out those advertising dollars out of the Canadian economy, there aren’t the resources that are there to help support the news going forward.”

The bill, which received royal assent just before Parliament went on summer break, is expected to take effect at the end of the year.

Google says it will block Canadian news content when that happens. Meta has already begun running tests on how to end Canadian news sharing on its platforms. A statement from the company says it will block links prior to the legislation taking effect.

Click to play video: 'Discussing Bill C-18;  the Online News Act'

Discussing Bill C-18; the Online News Act

Corus is the parent company for Global News, along with Canadian entertainment brands like Home and Garden Television (HGTV), The History Channel, the Food Network and animation studio Nelvana.

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“Corus has decided to suspend all advertising across our own brands and trademarks with Meta, and we are encouraging our partners and clients to do the same,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced the government will stop all advertising on Facebook and Instagram in response to Meta blocking news content. The minister called Meta’s actions “unreasonable” and “irresponsible.”

The government spends about $10 million advertising on the platforms, Rodriguez said, and added that money will be transferred to other ad campaigns.

Rodriguez noted that he is more pleased with Google, which he says remains in discussion with the government on what big tech regulation can look like.

Canadian media companies Quebecor, TorStar, CBC, Bell Media and Cogeco have all announced similar pauses to advertising on Meta platforms, and Meta has begun rolling out intermittent blocks on accounts run by Canadian media outlets on its platforms like Instagram.

Click to play video: 'Bill C-18: The fallout over Google, Meta's plans to block news links in Canada'

Bill C-18: The fallout over Google, Meta’s plans to block news links in Canada

“The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they’re resorting to bullying tactics to try and get their way. It’s not going to work,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month at a press conference.

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“We will continue to make sure that these incredibly profitable corporations contribute to strengthening our democracy, not weakening it.”

Google says C-18 is “unworkable” as passed. The company says charging just two companies a fee for hosting links amounts to a “link tax” and creates an uncapped financial liability. Google notes it was prepared to help support news – pointing to its Google News Showcase program, which has deals with more than 150 publications in Canada, including Global News.

Meta says ending the sharing of Canadian news links amounts to a business decision.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo