The ‘Netflix Tax’ is a Misnomer Used to Smear a Great Idea

Don’t believe Big Media, or the big cable companies behind them, which slag a logical way to fund new journalism.

By Marc Edge 1 Sep 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Marc Edge teaches media and communication at University Canada West and the University of Malta. His latest book is The News We Deserve: The Transformation of Canada’s Media Landscape. (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2016). This article was first published in the September/October issue of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives magazine The Monitor.

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No sooner had Liberal MP Hedy Fry’s parliamentary heritage committee handed down its report on Canada’s news media crisis in June (after 16 months of hearings in Ottawa) than the newspaper industry bellied up to the trough and put in for a bailout worth $275 million a year. The timing was poor, as it appeared the other shoe had dropped a bit too quickly.

When it comes to money grabs, however, the press proved bumbling amateurs compared with Canada’s electronic media.

Titled Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape, the Fry report made many sensible recommendations. Some are long overdue, like changes to our charitable giving laws that would allow tax-deductible donations to fund journalism, as they can in the U.S. and elsewhere. Other recommendations repeat pleas made by previous inquiries, such as for a diversity test to prevent market dominance by any media owner, and changes to the Competition Act that would treat news media takeovers differently than those in other industries. The same measures were suggested in 2006 by a Senate committee on news media, but they were ignored by a newly installed Harper government that looked the other way for a decade as the country’s media instead consolidated into unprecedented power centres.

Our largest newspaper chain (Postmedia) was taken over on Harper’s watch by U.S. hedge funds, which now own 98 per cent of the company — despite a supposed 25 per cent limit on foreign ownership in this culturally sensitive industry. Postmedia in turn took over Sun Media, our second-largest newspaper chain, giving it 15 of the country’s 21 largest dailies, including eight of the nine largest in Western Canada.

CEO Paul Godfrey promised to preserve competition in cities where Postmedia thus owned both dailies and the Competition Bureau signed off on the deal in 2015. The double-cross came last year, when Postmedia merged the newsrooms of its duplicate dailies in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa, prompting Fry’s inquiry.

The industry suggested the Canadian Periodical Fund, which currently subsidizes magazines and non-daily newspapers to the tune of $75 million a year, offered a suitable model.

Published on September 4, 2017 at 9:55 am by mikedup

Comments

September 4, 2017 - 1:18 pm

Sean

Never gonna happen,CRTC tried and failed.


September 5, 2017 - 8:16 am

Liz

Stop listening or watching the MSM. Turn off the tv and read … not newspapers or news magazines but books. Non-fiction, fiction. Your soul will thank you.


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