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by Alexander Fäh

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Google blocks Canadian news content - Battle over payments to local publishers escalates

  • Google and Facebook intensify their resistance against a new Canadian law mandating payments to local publishers.

  • Google will remove links to Canadian news content from search results and other products, while Facebook has already announced similar measures.

  • Canada's media industry is calling for stricter regulation of internet giants to offset financial losses incurred due to Facebook and Google's share of the online advertising market.


Google joins Facebook and plans to block Canadian news content.

Google and Facebook block Canadian news content - Dispute over payments to publishers intensifies; Image: Bloomberg

Google has announced its plan to block Canadian news content on its platform in Canada, joining Facebook in protesting against a new law mandating payments to local publishers. The Alphabet-owned company will remove links to Canadian news content from search results and other products in about six months when the law takes effect.

Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, made a similar announcement last week following the passage of Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act.

Canada's media industry has called for stricter regulation of internet giants to support news organizations that have suffered financial losses as Facebook and Google gained a larger share of the online advertising market.

According to Canada's independent budget watchdog, news businesses could potentially receive approximately CAD 330 million ($249 million) per year through deals mandated by the legislation.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill last year, stated that the platforms have no immediate obligations under the act, and the government is open to consulting with them on the regulatory and implementation process.

Facebook and Google have argued that the proposed regulations are unsustainable for their businesses and have signaled for months the possibility of limiting news availability in Canada unless the law is amended. The Canadian federal government has rejected proposals for changes, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the companies of using "bullying tactics" in June.

Kent Walker, Google's President of Global Affairs, stated in a blog post that the law is unworkable, and the company does not believe that the regulatory process can address the "structural issues with the legislation."

"We have informed the government that, unfortunately, when the law takes effect, we will have to remove links to Canadian news content from our Search, News, and Discover products in Canada," said Walker.

The news sources affected by Google's decision will be determined based on the government's definition of "eligible news businesses" once the rules for implementation are finalized.

Google will also terminate its News Showcase program in Canada, which involves agreements with 150 news publications across the country. The law requires online platforms to negotiate with news publishers and pay for their content. A similar law was passed in Australia in 2021, prompting threats from Google and Facebook to curtail their services. However, both companies reached agreements with Australian media organizations after the legislation was amended.

Google argues that Canada's law is broader than those in Australia and Europe as it puts a price on news story links displayed in search results and can apply to outlets that do not produce news. The search engine giant proposed that the display of news content, rather than links, should be the basis for payment and that only businesses that produce news according to journalistic standards should be eligible.


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