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Internet giants should support local news, culture, Melanie Joly says

OTTAWA–Internet giants like Facebook and Google should play a direct role in investing in “trusted local journalism” and Canadian culture, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said Tuesday.
Joly told the Star international tech companies have “not basically accepted they have a clear responsibility” to the countries they operate in, including promoting and funding cultural content, but also shaping public debate and discussion.
Far from being “neutral pipelines” for information, Joly said the digital platforms have immense power in deciding what content Canadians consume, from Netflix recommending your next TV binge to Facebook and Google promoting some news stories over others.
“I think more and more voices around the world are being raised regarding the fact that platforms need to recognize their responsibility, and that while they’re getting a huge piece of the pie of digital advertising revenues, there needs to be an approach to support more trusted local journalism,” Joly said in an exclusive interview.
“The benefits of the digital economy have not been shared equally. Too many creators, journalists, artists have been left behind, and there needs to be a better balance.”
Joly’s comments came as the federal government is preparing reviews of the Broadcast Act and the Telecommunications Act. The Liberals have also asked the CRTC to study how Canadians will consume content in the future.
But in recent weeks, the Liberals have taken a more aggressive tone with digital disrupters — saying the companies need to address problems like the spread of disinformation online, or face tighter federal regulations.
Taylor Owen, a digital media and global affairs researcher at the University of British Columbia, said he feels there’s been a “sea change” within the Canadian government on digital governance issues.

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