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Canada Halts Advertising On Facebook In ‘Online News Act’ Dispute

 |  July 5, 2023

The Canadian government and two companies have fired back in a dispute with Meta Platforms.

The government, media firm Quebecor and cable television operator Cogeco Communications have said in separate announcements that they have halted their advertising on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms after the tech giant said it plans to stop making news available on its platform in Canada, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (July 5).

The government alone spends 10 million Canadian dollars (about $7.5 million) on advertisements on the platform each year, according to the report.

These moves follow Meta’s announcement that it will stop distributing news in Canada after the government passed a law that requires digital platforms to pay local publishers for the use of their content, the report said.

Related: Meta To Pull News From Facebook Over Canada’s Online News Act

Quebecor said in a Wednesday press release that Meta’s decision “cannot be tolerated,” that Quebecor is withdrawing all advertising from the platforms, and that it encourages other businesses, governments and institutions to do the same.

“This high-handed decision is an abuse of Meta’s dominant position, particularly in the Canadian online advertising market, and violates the basic tenets of any society that believes in the importance of reliable, trustworthy news coverage for a healthy democracy,” Quebecor said in the release.

Under Canada’s new Online News Act, firms like Meta and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, are required to pay Canadian media publishers for permitting connections to news content on their platforms.

Canadian publishers have long lobbied the government for such a move, claiming that the advertising revenue that used to be the lifeblood of their operations has disproportionately migrated to global web behemoths.

By enacting the new legislation, the country joined Australia, France, Spain and other countries that require Big Tech to negotiate with news publishers and pay for their content.

Meta has also opposed a California bill that would require a fee for journalism.

The company said the state’s proposed Journalism Preservation Act would create a “slush fund” that would benefit big media companies and that Meta would refuse to pay into it.

“It is disappointing that California lawmakers appear to be prioritizing the best interests of national and international media companies over their own constituents,” Meta said in a statement released May 31.