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House passes Online News Act

The Commons yesterday by a 213 to 114 vote passed a bill mandating that social media platforms share a portion of news-related ad revenues with online publishers. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez called it one part of his plan to “build a safer” internet.

“The Online News Act is one piece of a large and complex puzzle that aims to build a safer, more inclusive and more competitive internet for all Canadians,” Rodriguez told the Commons in Third Reading debate. “I have spoken with my G7 colleagues about all of this and I can say one thing: The whole world is watching Canada right now.”

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Bill C-18 the Online News Act would compel Google and Facebook to pay newsrooms a portion of ad revenues generated by linked stories. The bill would also grant publishers an exemption from federal anti-trust law in negotiating secret revenue settlements with social media companies.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has acknowledged the largest beneficiary of the bill is the CBC that uses a portion of $1.3 billion annual subsidies to operate a free news website. The CBC website averages more than 21 million unique visits monthly.

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