The federal government has announced a number of measures to provide almost $600 million to support journalism in Canada to both non-profit and for-profit news organizations to assist the industry during a period of significant disruption and negative financial pressures. CJFE joins in supporting those changes which will allow non-profit news media to operate with charitable status, and those which provide non-refundable tax credits to subscribers of digital news media.
However, CJFE has principled concerns about how the government implements any direct funding of media. Accordingly, as these measures are implemented, CJFE calls on the government to commit to the following principles:
1) The process that determines which news organizations receive government funding must be open and transparent and include an opportunity for public consultation or comment on the criteria for determining how any direct funding is delivered. CJFE believes this is essential to ensure that public confidence in our media is maintained.
2) The criteria for determining which news organizations are to receive government funding must be publicly available before any funding is provided. The criteria must be clear and applied by an independent arms-length panel representative of Canadian journalism, whose members do not derive any benefit from the funding decisions. The panel must continue to operate in accordance with a mandated transparent and public process and report to the public on a regular basis.
3) The Canadian government must explain to the public what it will do to ensure any news organization that receives government funding is independent of government and remains free from government interference editorial or otherwise.