Independent Panel of Experts on Journalism and the Written Press — June 19 2019 meeting

Panel members present

Minutes

Officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Finance were present during the morning portion of the meeting, to greet panel members, make presentations and answer questions from the panel members.

After welcoming remarks from senior officials, Canadian Heritage officials provided a review of the panel’s mandate and answered questions. At the same time, panel members were presented with options as to levels of support the Government could provide in addition to financial (to cover the panel’s operating costs) and logistical support (e.g. book meeting rooms, hotel rooms, etc.)

Officials from Finance Canada then provided an overview of the fiscal measures announced in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement for which further details were provided in Budget 2019 and answered questions.

Government officials then left the meeting to let panel members deliberate.

Subsequently, panel members elected Bob Cox as president.

Panel members further decided to keep the option of contacting government officials to obtain clarifications when questions on their mandate or criteria would arise during deliberations.

Lunch Break

The panel first proceeded with a roundtable during which each member expressed their expectations of the panel’s work and the issues that should be addressed in its deliberations and potential areas for recommendations in its report.

Issues and topics that were raised include:

End of roundtable portion of meeting

The Panel then turned its attention to a discussion about definitions.

Following a discussion, consensus was reached by Panel members to create a list of deliverables:

In the case of the definitions, there is a basis in the legislation that needs to be expanded upon. In the case of the general recommendations, this should be in reference to either legislation or program changes.

The discussion then turned to the content in the Budget and on the presentation from Finance Canada earlier in the day. It was suggested that the panel’s attention should be focussed on the top part of the list, but not on criteria such as defining Canadian ownership, e.g. the 75% ownership requirement, as this concept, for example, is based on the definition already found in Section 19 of the Income Tax Act.

1. Defining Original News Content

Panel members raised several questions in discussing a definition of “original news content”, including:

One panel member noted that if the panel wants to be forward-thinking, then it needs to keep focus on content that is of general interest (as opposed to sports or science). In reference to the federal government’s goal, in the Budget there is more intent given to public or democratic institutions. The intent is to strengthen democratic institutions.

A suggestion was made that a definition should begin by defining “original” on its own followed by a definition of content, whether it is meant to have a particular focus or examining content from a particular angle. In this way, content could be about particular subjects but still of general interest. Exclusions, such as those listed in the Quebec Government’s program, would still be maintained.

A suggestion was made to add “eligible” to”original”.

When concluding the meeting, discussion returned to one of the problems raised earlier in the day about the money that goes to US companies from advertising. It was reiterated that the Panel should recommend something on this, and that it highlight the issues created by social media revenue.

End of meeting

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