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Canadian Media Guild Calls for Greater Government Support for Media Industry

The Canadian Media Guild is calling for enhanced “public funding mechanisms” to support media coverage, according to testimony made to the Commons heritage committee.

Annick Forest, the national president of the Guild, emphasized the importance of “fortifying the resilience” of Canadian media against disinformation and misinformation threats to protect the credibility of democratic institutions, as first covered by Blacklock’s Reporter.

Ms. Forest proposed that Parliament should consider additional public funding mechanisms for private media, beyond the existing subsidies, to ensure media diversity across Canada and support media organizations in serving Canadians nationwide.

In 2019, Parliament approved a $595 million media support package, including annual payroll rebates of up to $13,750 per newsroom employee. Cabinet increased these annual rebates to a maximum of $29,750 on Nov. 21, 2023, with an additional investment of $129 million.

“As a cornerstone of our democracy, Canadian media play a crucial role in informing, engaging, and empowering citizens,” Ms. Forest testified.

She further stressed the necessity of a “robust and resilient” workforce for media organizations to fulfill their mission of researching, reporting, and disseminating news.

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Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, a former CTV broadcaster, countered this view by expressing concern over the loss of public trust in subsidized newsrooms.

“There is no trust in media today … The public lost faith and confidence in the media, and once you lose it, people go elsewhere for their information,” said Mr. Waugh, who has over four decades of broadcasting experience.

Findings from the CRTC’s in-house Public Opinion Research Tracker, released on Feb. 7, suggest that only a third of Canadians perceive the news media as trustworthy and balanced after five years of federal subsidies, indicating a low level of public trust and satisfaction with the quality, variety, and depth of content offered by Canadian news media.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Limited, found that only 36 percent of Canadians trust the media’s information and believe news programming offers diverse perspectives. Similarly, 37 percent are satisfied with the quality of information and analysis from Canadian news outlets.

Despite these concerns, 45 percent depend on Canadian news media for global event updates and acknowledge the broad issue coverage. However, trust varies, especially among younger Canadians—only 23 percent under 34 trust the media highly, with regional trust ranging from 24 percent in Alberta to 42 percent in Prince Edward Island.

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