Date
12 November 2019
Canada unveiled plans last year to support 'local journalism' as media organizations struggle amid shrinking advertising revenues. Photo: AFP
Canada unveiled plans last year to support 'local journalism' as media organizations struggle amid shrinking advertising revenues. Photo: AFP

How Canada plans to support its media sector

Following an initiative in Canada last November to help fundraising by non-profit news organizations and offering tax relief for some qualifying entities in the media sector, an independent panel appointed by the government recently recommended that the eligibility criteria should be more lenient, so that more small- and mid-sized news outlets can benefit.

There are currently numerous organizations in Canada specializing in disseminating information and news for ethnic minorities. Many of them aren’t able to hire two or more journalists on a long-term basis, so they are not qualified for a tax credit. Given this, the independent panel has suggested the possibility of covering freelance journalists and content contributors under the tax credit.

The Canadian panel also proposed another idea: Five percent of the federal government’s advertising spending should go to print media, while a fixed percentage of total expenses should go to both print and online news outlets so as to promote a broad spectrum of media.

Opposition parties, too, can take advantage of the proposal, as advertising support for a diverse range of publications will ensure that the opposition voices won’t be suppressed.

There had been concerns earlier that news outlets that were standing up against the government won’t bother to apply for subsidies as they could be excluded from the relief program. Meanwhile, those that seek financial support may tend to go soft on the administration, observers have said.

Now, the new suggestions from the independent panel have been submitted to the ministers for finance and heritage. As a country of diversity, Canada is obligated to support media that speak up for minority and LGBTQ communities.

By stepping in explicitly, authorities can ensure that inclusiveness and diversity of the sector can be preserved. Also, the initiative can help the Canadian media maintain its voice in the face of an onslaught by giant social media platforms from across the border in the United States.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 24

Translation by Connie Li

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

HKEJ contributor