The News/Media Alliance is urging President Biden to defend local journalism from the tech giants like Google when meeting this week with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The context is a Canadian House of Commons bill (C-18) titled the “Online News Act,” which would force platforms like Meta and Google to pay publishers for their content.
In February Google launched tests to block access to news content for some Canadian users in an apparent response to the bill.
“Google and Meta have repeatedly attempted to avoid paying news publishers for the high-quality, local journalism that publishers invest significant resources into producing, while the platforms enjoy a steady stream of users and ad revenue and news publishers struggle,” states Danielle Coffey, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the News/Media Alliance.
Coffrey adds, “First in Australia, then in the U.S., and now in Canada, Meta and Google have threatened to remove news from their platforms and risk harming the public rather than pay for content they did not create.”
Presumably, Biden would encourage passage of the Canadian bill, although the U.S. failed to pass its own Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) last December. It is not clear that the President will even raise this issue, given the host of other concerns to be addressed, or what Trudeau could do about it.
In February, Google told Reuters, "We're briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users. We run thousands of tests each year to assess any potential changes to Search," a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.