Beyond Google Alerts: The Fallout From Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18) Just Made Your Job Harder

Published on
July 7, 2023
Written by
Danny Chang
Read time
4 min

Danny Chang

Director of Growth

Government affairs professionals know that staying informed isn't a luxury — it’s necessary. Yet, much of their traditional toolkit — Google alerts, early morning scans from media monitoring companies, and manual click-throughs of key sources — is inadequate in our rapidly-changing information landscape.

Canadian news content is about to vanish from the world’s two biggest tech platforms now that the Online News Act (Bill C-18) has received Royal Assent. C-18 will require internet platforms and search engines to pay Canadian online news companies for linking their content.

Even though enforcement is expected to be six months out, big tech companies are announcing sweeping changes. Fearing a contagion that might spread further, Google and Meta declared they would stop sharing Canadian news links on their platforms.

This isn’t unique to Canada. Australia faced down the same threat in response to similar legislation of its own, resulting in a compromise of sorts. The US Congress had similar legislation before it last year, and a bill is currently winding its way through the California state legislature. The EU had already adopted measures in response to the same concerns that motivated legislators in those jurisdictions.

So, what’s going on?  Well, as the Public Policy Forum’s report, “the Shattered Mirror” (and the Shattered Mirror: Five Years On) highlights, when it comes to the threat that local news outlets face when up against these companies, the tech giants are eating their lunch.

This is, in part, due to the substantial shift in advertising revenue away from local news and towards digital platforms, even though these digital platforms don’t actually produce the content they use to generate those advertising dollars. In 2022, 80% of all online ad revenue in Canada went to Google and Meta. Traditional news outlets are feeling the squeeze, leading to the closure of more than 450 outlets since 2008. Just last week, two of Canada’s biggest news media conglomerates announced they were exploring a merger to survive this challenging environment.

The fallout from Bill C-18 highlights a growing issue for those in government affairs: the way we monitor information is in flux. This situation mirrors the conflict between big tech and the Canadian government, and intra-tech rivalries like Meta's launch of Threads to compete with Twitter. The sources we have relied on are changing, as are the tools we use to access them. Meanwhile, shifts in the news media industry are affecting the type of issues that are getting coverage at all. In a world where local journalism is on life support, much of the information government affairs professionals need doesn’t even make the news anymore.

It is getting harder to monitor an array of sources and piece data together to uncover intelligence that affects your business. Government affairs professionals will need to focus on directly monitoring a wider range of authoritative sources with a critical eye for the truth.

No matter who wins these battles — big tech or government (or somewhere in the middle)  —  the whole thing highlights that our profession is in the midst of an irreversible transformation. Old tactics and tools are not cutting it and as the landscape continues to change, so must we.

Want to learn more about what Delphic Research is doing to solve this problem? Contact me at

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