Online News Act receives Royal Assent
GATINEAU, June 22, 2023
News organizations and journalists are essential to our democracy. They play a vital role in providing accurate, fact-based, non-partisan reporting on current events happening in our communities, across the country and around the world, allowing all of us to make informed decisions on important issues such as health, public safety and education.
Today, Bill C-18, the Online News Act, received Royal Assent. This new law will require the largest digital platforms to bargain fairly with Canadian news businesses for the use of their news content on their services.
Millions of Canadians now access their news online. Digital platform act as the gatekeepers in today’s digital news marketplace.
The Online News Act levels the playing field between news businesses and large digital platforms to create greater fairness to ensure sustainability of the news industry. Through a market-based approach, it encourages voluntary commercial agreements between platforms and news businesses with minimal government intervention, as well as crucial safeguards to preserve the independence of the press.
Following Royal Assent, the Department of Canadian Heritage will publish draft regulations in the Canada Gazette specifying the application of the Act and provide guidance on implementing the exemption criteria. Everyone will have an opportunity to consult and provide feedback through this Canada Gazette process.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will be responsible for overseeing the Online News Act. It will oversee the bargaining, negotiation and external final-offer arbitration processes between platforms and news businesses. It will also create a code of conduct to support fairness and transparency in bargaining.
“A free and independent press is fundamental to our democracy. Thanks to the Online News Act, newsrooms across the country will now be able to negotiate fairly for compensation when their work appears on the biggest digital platforms. It levels the playing field by putting the power of big tech in check and ensuring that even our smallest news business can benefit through this regime and receive fair compensation for their work.”
—Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage
Between 2008 and 2020, overall revenue for broadcast television, radio, newspapers and magazines fell by nearly $6 billion. At least one third of Canadian journalism jobs disappeared between 2010 and 2016. Since 2008, 474 news media outlets have closed in 335 communities across Canada.
Digital platforms benefit from sharing news content on their platforms, both directly (advertising near news) and indirectly (user engagement, data refinement, subsequent targeted advertising). This legislation requires dominant platforms to compensate Canadian news businesses fairly for their content by addressing the bargaining imbalance between the two parties.
By encouraging proactive fair commercial agreements between news businesses and digital platforms, the Online News Act will maintain a free and independent press with minimal government intervention.
The Online News Act supports small news outlets by allowing them to negotiate for compensation as a unit through collective bargaining. This feature can mitigate the bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and the smaller, diverse news businesses in Canada.
There are four ways for news businesses to be eligible: as a Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization under the Income Tax Act; as a licensed campus, community or Indigenous broadcaster; as a Canadian organization producing news content of general interest; and as an Indigenous news outlet.
The CRTC is an independent regulatory body with experience in dispute resolution in the communications sector. It is well suited to oversee the bargaining process at arm’s length from government.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
- Date modified: