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According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the new law will benefit major Canadian media by more than $300 million

According to Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Yves Giroux, the new legislation will benefit major Canadian media and publishers more than $329 million in government subsidies, if passed.

“We expect news companies to receive approximately $329.2 million in total compensation annually from digital platforms and spend approximately $20.8 million in transaction and compliance costs to trade their first deals under the bill,” the Parliamentary Budget Officer wrote in his “Cost Estimate for Bill C-18: Online News Act,” as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

Bill C-18 is called “An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada” and will regulate “digital news intermediaries”, such as Google and Facebook, in order to “enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market and contribute to its sustainability.”

In short, C-18 will force internet and social media giants into deals to share advertising revenue with Canadian online media.

The bill, which is sponsored by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, is currently under review by a House of Commons committee.

If passed, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said he expects the total cost to develop and implement the bill to be approximately “$5.6 million per year. over 5 years” for the Department of Canadian Heritage and the CRTC.

“The new regulations will result in regulatory compliance costs for businesses as well as costs in negotiating and enforcing agreements,” wrote the PBO. “This will in turn have tax consequences for the federal government.”

“No more distrust”

Independent publishers who testified before the House of Commons Canadian Heritage Committee on September 23 criticized Bill C-18 as a bailout for “struggling media companies.”

“I suspect what we’re seeing here is a form of rent-seeking behavior in which struggling media companies use every last iota of their dwindling financial and social capital to lobby for subsidies and regulations,” Jen said. Gersonco-founder of an online newsletter called “The Line”.

Gerson added that “the more the federal government tries to help the media, the more it risks damaging our credibility.”

“When the federal government attempts to salvage the media, the media becomes a legitimate target for partisan attack, which undermines our fundamental democratic role and function,” she said.

During his testimony before the committee on September 27, former CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies said Canadians’ trust in the media has “never been lower”.

“It’s going to create more mistrust and it’s not going to end well,” Menzies said of C-18.

When Rodriguez introduced the bill in April, he said the news sector in Canada “is in crisis and this is contributing to heightened public distrust and the rise of harmful misinformation in our society.”

However, “the longer this relationship is broken, the more the grant will be needed,” he added.

Noé Chartier contributed to this report.

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Peter Wilson is a journalist based in Ontario, Canada.