Pablo Rodriguez Suspends $10 Million in Payments to Meta. Less Than One Hour of Revenue

Pablo Rodriguez is grasping at straws now. Today, he announced that he is suspending $10 million in payments to Meta.

Heritage Minister, Pablo Rodriguez, has announced that he is suspending all advertising on Facebook and Instagram. The news comes after Meta announced that they will be blocking Canadian news links and Google following suit, similarly announcing that Canadian news links will be blocked as well.

Bill C-18 supporters were hoping that magical thinking and pixie dust would resolve all the problems with the legislation. As a result, they successfully got quick passage of the bill, convincing the government ignore all the warnings of the consequences of the legislation in question.

Now that the bill is now law, all that believing hard enough didn’t pan out in getting the journalistic utopia that supporters were hoping. Along with the predictable dropping of news links, Meta also began cancelling publisher agreements that were already in place before the bill became law. This was, of course, yet another prediction by critics that came true. So far, the streak of predictions coming true for critics have been quite perfect so far.

That leaves the Canadian government. How do they intend on responding to the situation? Well, it seems likely that the government was looking around for laws both domestically and internationally to use against the platforms for complying with the law in this manner. After all, they refused to give in to the ransom payments of the Online News Act, so what’s the next best thing? So far, the government’s best idea was to consider issuing massive bailouts to the sector in an effort to try and shore up all the lost revenue that is about to sweep across the sector. While that is by no means a great idea given how invariably messy that is going to be, that is pretty much the only move the government can make while keeping their bad law in place.

Otherwise, the government hasn’t been able to come up with a solution that really helps their situation. Earlier this month, the minister decided to bad mouth the platforms in the international media. Otherwise, he’s been on a streak of being angry that the platforms won’t “pay their fair share”. Let’s face it, this is about making platforms pay for the privilege of hosting links to the news sector. It’s an incredibly stupid idea and there are plenty of ways of getting platforms to help support the news sector. This isn’t one of those ways.

With the government desperately low on ideas, they find themselves grasping at straws. One method that was announced today was retaliatory measures of suspending all payments to Meta. A lot of reports neglect to mention the dollar amount, but one report we did find actually offered that figure. From Yahoo! News:

The Canadian government will stop spending some C$10 million ($7.5 million) per year on Facebook and Instagram ads amid a dispute over a new law on paying online news publishers that the Meta-owned platforms have opposed, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said on Wednesday.

“We cannot continue paying advertising dollars to Meta while they refuse to pay their fair share to Canadian news organizations,” Rodriguez said.

“We believe we have a path forward and we’re willing to continue talking with the platforms,” Rodriguez, who introduced the legislation last year, said.

If you saw the $10 million figure and burst out laughing, well, you have very good reason to. We did some digging into the financial situation of Meta. According to one source, Meta made $117.346 billion over the course of 12 months:

Meta Platforms revenue for the twelve months ending March 31, 2023 was $117.346B, a 1.94% decline year-over-year.

Working the math, there is 8760 hours in a year, so that works out to $13,395,662.10. In other words, the minister has announced that it will be suspending less than one hour of revenue for Meta. Yup, that’ll teach ’em! I’m sure they really feel threatened by… a fart in the wind?

The best case scenario for this move is that it’ll be the principle of it all and showing their supporters that they aren’t supporting the platforms anymore either. So, it may be more of a move to give red meat to their domestic supporters. There’s no way that Meta will even care about this loss in revenue. Heck, it would be a wonder if they would notice a difference in the end. Rounding errors costs more money for these companies.

At any rate, if the bills supporters were hoping this will make a difference in the situation, they’ll be sorely disappointed. If anything, this proves my point that the Canadian government has no bargaining chip to work with. Grandstanding opportunities? Yes. An actual bargaining chip in this fight? Not at all.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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