GUEST HOST: Sheila Gunn Reid
Rebel News has obtained an exclusive Heritage Department Access to information briefing note titled “Approaches for Online News Publisher Remuneration” which hints at never-ending media bailouts.
“Does this do enough?” one bureaucrat wrote.
Our access to these briefing notes — advice to the minister prepared by ministerial staff — was made possible only through crowdfunded donations to www.RebelInvestigates.com.
Were the people drafting the series of media subsidies polluting the landscape aware of how problematic they would be for journalistic independence? These documents show that at least one bureaucrat was concerned enough to voice his or her opinion about “perverting” the media, and others saw the government influence as the point of the bailout programs, legislation and regulations.
True North reports:
The $50 million Local Journalism Initiative was created by Heritage Canada in 2019, with control given to organizations within the press industry. Several managers of prominent mainstream news outlets sit on the judging panel.
One panel member is Winnipeg Free Press publisher Bob Cox. The Free Press was awarded grants to hire two new reporters, including a “climate change correspondent.”
Cox, who chaired the newspaper lobby’s pursuit of a bailout from the federal government, told MPs in 2019 that the push for federal support was not for his own interest.
“There has also been the suggestion newspapers will be beholden to the federal government, not independent, and more likely to give favourable coverage. Well, I have not noticed this happening.”
Except our documents show that even bureaucrats writing advice to the minister responsible for the bailouts were sounding alarm bells that the bailouts would contaminate the coverage. Not that the , minister cared. The comments left in the margins of the briefing notes though blurred show that one bureaucrat was concerned that subsidies and grants may “artificially” structure the marketplace and create “perverse incentives.”
Another bureaucrat hints at an ever-increasing merry-go-round of media subsidies, questioning if the already generous handouts are “sufficient and appropriate” and if the money already provided is the “right calibration.” “Does this do enough?” bureaucrat wrote.
Enough of what? Make every outlet into the CBC?
GUEST: Franco Terrazzano (@franco_nomics) from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation joins us to discuss the sneaky new raise for the unelected senate the Liberals have shoe-horned into the latest budget bill.
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