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Google : CBC/Radio-Canada must be excluded, judges Qué bec | Standoff between web giants and Ottawa

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Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe. (Archive photo)

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Even though he welcomes the agreement reached on Wednesday between the federal government and Google, Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, believes that CBC/Radio-Canada should be excluded and that his government should “have his say.”

This agreement, currently awaiting approval from the Treasury Board, provides for the technology services giant to pay a contribution of $100 million per year to Canadian media as financial compensation.

This sum, which will be indexed annually to inflation, must be paid to a collective which represents all Canadian media.

Full details of the agreement have not yet been revealed. The eligibility criteria for media that could benefit from this agreement are not yet known.

However, for Mr. Lacombe, there is no doubt that CBC/Radio-Canada must be excluded from sharing because of the subsidies it enjoys. Aid should be directed to private media outlets which are currently losing valuable advertising revenue, he wrote on Network X (formerly Twitter).

Tug of war between web giants and Ottawa

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He also affirms that Quebec must have a say in how revenues will be shared between the various media.

For the moment, the federal government is going it alone, as if culture and communications were its responsibility. Whatever Ottawa thinks, Quebec culture and media must be governed in Quebec, and whatever initiatives are taken in Ottawa, they must be in consultation with Quebec.

A quote from Mathieu Lacombe, minister Quebecois of Culture and Communications

On Wednesday, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, also said he believed that the public broadcaster should not benefit from financial compensation from Google as long as it receives sums guaranteed by the Canadian state.

Since this announcement, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, has remained evasive in her responses to the question of whether CBC/Radio-Canada would be excluded or not sharing the money paid by Google.

I know that there have been a lot of comments from the various media about CBC/Radio-Canada. I cannot speak about the regulations […], but I can say that we took very seriously the comments concerning our public broadcaster, said Ms. St-Onge on Wednesday at a press conference.

Thursday, in an interview at Midi info, she however mentioned CBC/Radio-Canada as one of the Canadian media that could benefit from the agreement with Google, but without giving further details. According to her, however, this agreement will mainly benefit independent media, indigenous media and media from official language minority communities.

In reaction to Mr. Lacombe's comment, the president of the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec (FPJQ), Éric-Pierre Champagne, deplored the differences between the federal and provincial governments on this subject.

The last thing journalists and media outlets need right now is a feud between Quebec and Ottawa on the back of the media crisis. Media outlets are closing, journalists are losing their jobs and it is information that is suffering. Certain regions in Quebec will soon become media deserts if we do nothing. That's the sad reality.

A quote from Éric-Pierre Champagne, president of the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec

Wednesday, Leon Mar, institutional spokesperson for Radio-Canada, welcomed the agreement concluded with Google, affirming that it constitutes an important step in the development of a healthy information ecosystem for Canadians. We will closely follow the next steps in these discussions, he added.

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