Canadian media groups challenge Meta’s news content block

Industry bodies, including News Media Canada and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, have requested an inquiry from the Competition Bureau into Meta’s actions, claiming they could strengthen the company’s dominance and adversely impact Canadian journalism.

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Canadian media industry organizations have urged the country’s antitrust regulator to look into Meta Platforms’ decision to block news content on its platforms within the nation. The groups claim that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is abusing its dominant market position.

Meta initiated the news content block on its Facebook and Instagram platforms in Canada in response to a forthcoming law that mandates tech giants to compensate for news articles. Although this law, the Canada Online News Act, was enacted in June, its implementation is pending the finalization of rules, which would require the platforms to share advertising revenue.

Industry bodies like News Media Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and CBC/Radio-Canada have submitted an application to the Competition Bureau requesting an investigation into Meta’s actions and a halt to the news block. The media groups assert that Meta’s behavior is anti-competitive and detrimental to Canadian journalism.

The Competition Bureau is presently reviewing the matter to determine if it contravenes the Competition Act. Meta has defended its stance, arguing that the law incorrectly assumes undue advantage from news content on its platforms and that such compensation is unsustainable for its business model.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government contends that Meta has no legal obligation at the moment and accuses the company of avoiding discussions during the rule-drafting process. This situation parallels Google’s intention to also block news in Canada upon the law’s enforcement.

Why does it matter?

This situation highlights a more overarching concern regarding the consolidation of power within a handful of significant tech corporations. This level of dominance provides them with the ability to shape market dynamics, dictate consumer access, and establish industry norms. In response to these issues, numerous nations have initiated measures to modernize their competition policies for the digital era. As an illustration, the United Kingdom has unveiled a legislative proposal to safeguard online consumers and foster equitable competition within digital markets.