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The technology services company would agree to negotiate financial compensation with Canadian media for the distribution of their news online.

Ottawa agrees with Google on royalties towards es to the Canadian media | Standoff between the web giants and Ottawa

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According to a CBC source, Google's final contribution would be around $100 million per year. (Archive photo)

  • Daniel Thibeault (View profile)Daniel Thibeault

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Three weeks from entry into force of the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18, at a time when the media are in the midst of a crisis and positions are being eliminated almost every week, many wondered if an agreement was possible.

According to a government source familiar with the negotiations, Ottawa and Google agreed at the beginning of the week on the final regulatory framework which will establish a royalty regime to help Canadian media.

The total amount of the fee, which will be included in the regulation, remains to be officially specified. According to a CBC source, Google's final contribution would be around $100 million per year. According to our information, the final amount will be indexed annually.

A few weeks ago, Ottawa estimated that the compensation should amount to $172 million. Instead, Google estimated the value of its bonds at $100 million.

To have taken this first step with Google is important, underlines the source who asked to remain anonymous because she was not authorized to speak publicly. This is one more solution to ensure media viability and restore balance between commercial platforms.

Standoff between web giants and Ottawa

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Tug of war between web giants and Ottawa

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In addition to the scale of the financial demands, last October Google expressed concern about what its spokesperson Shay Purdy called critical structural problems in the Online News Act. The company refused to have a mandatory negotiation and arbitration model imposed on it with Canadian press organizations, and preferred to deal with a single contact.

The settlement would now allow a negotiation model with a single group, which would represent all media, and which could allow Google to limit arbitration risks.

Ottawa would thus have succeeded in calming the fears of the search engine giant, which threatened to block Canadian journalistic content on its platform.

He wanted know how much it was going to cost, who he had to negotiate with, explains the source.

The rules negotiated by the government would be added to the legislative framework which must be unveiled by mid-December. Google would still be required to negotiate with the media and sign an agreement.

The Web giant could also add in the negotiations contributions in services which remain to be specified.

Faced with Google's threat to stop distributing Canadian news, the government seems to have had to soften its positions.

The government source, however, argues that, in context, an agreement constitutes a first victory. A net gain for the Canadian media, as part of a very symbolic negotiation which is likely to serve as an example elsewhere in the world.

Under established criteria, Bill C-18 applies to digital platforms with 20 million unique monthly users and annual revenues of one billion dollars. Only Meta and Google meet these criteria.

Last summer, Meta ended its discussions with the federal government, and ceased distribution of Canadian news on its Facebook and Instagram platforms in August. Negotiations still appear to be at a standstill.

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