By Robb M. Stewart

 

OTTAWA--Canada's government has struck a deal with Google over its controversial Online News Act that will see Canadian news continue to be shared on Google's online platforms in return for annual payments of 100 million Canadian dollars ($73.7 million) to support news businesses.

Pascale St-Onge, minister of Canadian heritage, said a path forward with Google was reached after weeks of discussions for the implementation of the law that aims to make large internet companies share advertising revenue with news publishers in the country.

The agreement is part of what the Liberal government has said is a push to create a fairer relationship between digital platforms and journalism in Canada, something St-Onge said has never been more at risk as newsrooms cut jobs or close entirely.

As part of the framework reached with Alphabet-owned Google, the company will pay $100 million in support each year, indexed to inflation, for a wide range of news business, including independent operations and those from indigenous and minority communities, St-Onge said. She said Google would have the option to work with a single collective to distribute the money to all eligible businesses based on headcount.

Google had threatened to block links to Canadian news on its platforms when the online news law takes effect at the end of the year. Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under a draft regulation from the government, the bill would have seen Google contribute as much as C$172 million to news organizations, though Google had said it expected a figure closer to C$100 million.

The government had pledged to implement a tax on big technology companies back in 2020, targeting big digital platforms like Google, Netflix and Facebook and Instagram owner Meta Platforms for digital oversight. However, officials in U.S. President Biden's administration and senior Congress officials have warned of possible U.S. retaliation should the law kick in.

The Online News Act is part of a trend around the world urging big internet companies to pay for news content that appears on their sites when it generates money for tech companies. St-Onge held out the possibility of reopening the agreement with Google if a better deal with digital platforms is reached elsewhere in the world.

St-Onge said further details about the final regulations would be disclosed after approval by the Treasury Board of Canada and prior to the act coming into effect Dec. 19.

The government said Google indicated it will continue to make programs available for Canadian news businesses, such as training, tools and resources for business development and support for non-profit journalism projects. The company also provided assurances that Canadian news businesses will continue to be treated commensurately with their global peers and if that no longer becomes the case it will discuss the matter with Ottawa and the industry with a view to resolving any concerns.

 

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 29, 2023 14:50 ET (19:50 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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