Toronto – The federal government’s announcement today to support Canadian media is welcome, according to FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, because it shows the government is paying attention to the crisis facing our journalistic organizations and the permanent consequences for our democracy were the news business to suffer mass bankruptcies.
By some industry estimates, many of our major media outlets are only weeks away from failing. Starved of advertising revenues for years, the final blow delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic will finish many off quickly. The measures announced today are too little and may come too late. Today, the government announced:
- Members of a panel that will administer a journalism labour tax credit announced in the 2018 Fall Fiscal Update and re-stated in Budget 2019
- An intention to buy $30 million in public health ads, mostly from Canadian media
- Accelerated payments under the Canadian Book Fund and the Canadian Periodical Fund
FRIENDS estimates these measures total approximately $200 million to $300 million. Crucially, they exclude broadcasters, who are major providers of local news. And as yet there is no infrastructure for delivering the labour tax credit.
“To ensure that enough Canadian media outlets survive this crisis, the government must provide an emergency financial infusion of closer to $1 billion. That support must be delivered extremely quickly, and in a way that avoids the ethical problems inherent to government writing cheques to the media,” says Daniel Bernhard, Executive Director of FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.
If Ottawa does not treat this as an acute emergency and act accordingly, Canadians will be left with few sources of reliable information they need during this unprecedented time.
We look forward to hearing about further measures Ottawa may announce.
ABOUT FRIENDS OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING: FRIENDS is the citizens' independent advocate for Canadian journalism, storytelling, and public broadcasting, and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.
For information and media inquiries, contact Jim Thompson at [email protected] or call 613-567-9592.