For immediate release
Montreal – La Presse, one of the country's largest newspapers, has declared that its business model is no longer viable after 134 years of sustained operations.
Today’s decision to restructure La Presse as a non-profit corporation dependent on government grants and charitable donations raises the stakes in Canada’s media crisis. What will it will to make Ottawa act to save our local media?
“La Presse has been surviving while producing quality journalism, most recently as an online only publication. If La Presse can’t survive as a business, most Canadian media outlets have little chance either. Ottawa needs to take meaningful action to address this crisis now,” says Daniel Bernhard, Executive Director and Spokesperson for the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
In Budget 2018, the federal government launched a $50 million fund to assist publications with their "transition to digital".
“La Presse led the world in becoming the first major daily to publish a tablet-only edition, but still could not sustain enough revenue to fund a serious newsroom. Digital isn't the problem, retaining enough advertising revenues to fund quality journalism is the problem,” Bernhard said.
La Presse has said that its decision was attributable to the flight of advertising money to Google and Facebook, a reality aggravated by the federal government’s policy of subsidizing the cost of advertising on Google and Facebook.
A loophole in the Income Tax Act encourages up to $5 billion in ad money to leave Canada each year – most of which goes to Google and Facebook -- that would otherwise have sustained La Presse and many other media organizations that provide critical reporting which sustains our democracy.
“It's time to close this loophole before more of our newsrooms succumb to Google and Facebook. Government must stop subsidizing these companies' products with taxpayer money.
“This would be the best way to keep the largest amount of money in the Canadian media sector, while avoiding the ethical pitfalls of direct government funding of journalism,” Bernhard added.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is an independent watchdog for Canadian programming and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.
For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592, [email protected]