Thursday 17 October 2019

Trudeau accused of trying to buy press backing

SUPPORT: Justin Trudeau. Picture: Reuters
SUPPORT: Justin Trudeau. Picture: Reuters

Nick Allen in Washington

Justin Trudeau's government has been accused of trying to buy media support ahead of crucial elections by launching a $600m taxpayer-funded bailout for Canadian newspapers.

The fund for "supporting Canadian journalism" would give tax credits and other incentives to traditional media organisations struggling to cope in the digital age.

A bill introducing the fund is expected to pass the Canadian parliament ahead of October's general election.

The Conservative opposition said the scheme would compromise journalists, move Canada toward "state-run media", and lead to favourable pre-election coverage for Mr Trudeau and his party.

Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative MP, told reporters: "I think it's very dangerous. Trudeau wants to define what constitutes acceptable journalism, and give money to those who meet that definition."

Under the plan, an "independent" panel - made up of members from the "news and journalism community" appointed by government - will determine which organisations will benefit.

Reaction in the media has been mixed, with the CWA Canada journalists' union giving it a cautious welcome.

Paul Godfrey, the chief executive of Postmedia, which publishes Canada's National Post, Vancouver Sun and Montreal Gazette, has called it a "turning point in the plight of newspapers" and suggested journalists should be "doing victory laps".

However, Andrew Coyne, a National Post columnist, has warned it will "irrevocably politicise the press" and called on journalists to boycott the "accursed" panel.

Meanwhile, broadcasters complained that they were being ignored.

In a letter to the government, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters said it was "hugely disappointed" that television and radio operators would not be eligible. It suggested the move would "solve the problems of one medium at the expense of another".

© Telegraph

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