A Canadian government-commissioned report released Thursday wants to see foreign internet news services taxed to subsidize Canadian media and a $400 million fund created to fight fake news.
The “Future of Journalism and Democracy” fund’s mandate will be to “finance reliable news and information,” though the report does not say who will determine what constitutes reliable.
The report, entitled “The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age,” based its finding on six round table discussions, a smattering of focus group research and some polling analysis of how Canadians view the connection between media and democracy.
Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly commissioned the report as a result of the increasing shift news distribution from traditional media to the internet. Postmedia, which owns most of the daily newspapers in Canada, is deeply in debt and has just initiated its latest round of layoffs.
The audience decline is not just limited to print media. Canada’s broadcast regulator — the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Center — says that about half of Canadian television stations will be forced to close given current media trends.
While the report was being written, Joly also relied upon town hall meetings and polling data to reach her conclusions that foreign internet news services and fake news were concerns to most Canadians.
In anticipation of the report, the internet freedom advocacy group OpenMedia has already condemned any “internet tax,” while PricewaterhouseCoopers issued a report last summer that suggested robust internet advertising revenues would continue while newspapers would experience a pattern of steady decline.
The Canadian Press was the only news service that was a direct participant in the roundtables and research that contributed to this report. The report suggests the wire service play a large role in any expansion of local news to service communities across Canada.
Joly’s office describes the transformation of news revenue from traditional media to the internet as “significant.”