The CBC is seemingly set to get a third of the money from the Google government deal. Now, they seem to be one of the only happy stakeholders.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the government caving to Google after pretty much handing everything over to them and calling the result a “deal”. While government supporters latched on to the $100 million figure as a “win” for the government (maybe in a Charlie Sheen sense), the figure rolls in existing deals already inked by other publishers, so it isn’t even new funding. Even worse, even if it was all new money, it doesn’t even come close to the $230 million the news sector lost when Meta pulled news links.
In the end, the link tax aspect of the Online News Act is basically dead at this point and replaced with a fund model that Google originally asked for and critics of the legislation were warm to in the first place (as an imperfect solution).
Die hard Liberal party supporters kept insisting everywhere that all of this was somehow a “win” for the government – even after it became painfully obvious that the Canadian government pretty much conceded virtually everything they were hoping to get. The reality is that the government had painted themselves into a corner, knew the clock was ticking down to December 19th, and desperately wanted out of the situation they put themselves in before they became known as the government that killed the journalism sector in Canada. For them, a deal of any kind was an acceptable deal – and they took what Google asked and called it a “deal”.
Even if after all the evidence put forward, you don’t believe me, then the reaction from stakeholders also told the story. As we earlier noted, Google responded very positively to the outcome, thanking Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge for her work in resolving the problems with the Online News Act.
FRIENDS, a well known lobbyist for the legislation, was furious at the deal and said that they would be looking to the Online Streaming Act to make up for the remaining $900 million shortfall for the sector (good luck with that).
Another lobbying organization, News Media Canada, wound up being unusually cryptic about the deal, but some suspect they are still gunning for $25 million out of the deal.
Yesterday, we reported on the Toronto Star reaction in which they condemned the Google government deal and flatly stated that they cannot, in any way, support the resulting deal. It’s an understandable reaction because the publishers that got deals prior to this are seeing their deals evaporate and replaced with different ones that could see less money flowing to them for all they know.
While the major publishers are rightfully fearing of getting a financial haircut for what they were either already getting or were hoping to get, one news organization seems remarkably upbeat about the whole thing: the CBC. Like the Australian model, which saw the Rupert Murdoch empire receive the lions share of the money, the CBC is expected to snatch a third of the money pie. That works out to a handsome $33 million payday and knocks the remaining pool of cash down to a comparatively paltry sum of $66 million.
Well, today, we learned that for completely mysterious reasons, the CBC seems to think that the deal struck between the government and Google is a great one for journalism. As the estimated $33 million gets wired directly from Google to the CBC, the CBC released a statement where they seem remarkably upbeat about the situation:
CBC/Radio-Canada is very pleased that the federal government has been able to reach an agreement with Google to support journalism in Canada.
By ensuring that news organizations can negotiate fair compensation for the content they create, this agreement marks a very important step towards building a healthy news ecosystem for Canadians. It is also encouraging for countries and news companies all over the world who are facing these same challenges.
We look forward to the next steps in these discussions.
(emphasis mine because that part was well and truly icing on the cake)
I think it’s very safe to say that, at this point, they are confident the check will clear.
Throughout the debates when the Online News Act was still Bill C-18, a number of the smaller outlets who were supportive of the legislation were very cautious and worried that they would get left with crumbs at the end of the day. The largest media outlets and organizations, meanwhile, kept trying to sell the story that the Online News Act is about the smaller players as the larger players had already inked the deals. The concerns by the smaller players who supported the legislation were very much warranted even back then and the developments today seemingly confirmed that they were very right to be worried that they would get largely left out.
Still, at least the CBC got their huge payday – even if it is at a reduced cost. I’m sure the other large news organizations that lobbied for this would in no way seethe in jealousy over it. I mean, they would never dream of doing that, right?