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Online News Act (S.C. 2023, c. 23)

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Act current to 2024-05-28 and last amended on 2023-12-19. Previous Versions

Online News Act

S.C. 2023, c. 23

Assented to 2023-06-22

An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada

His Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Online News Act.

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

  •  (1) The following definitions apply in this Act.

    Commission

    Commission means the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. (Conseil)

    covered agreement

    covered agreement means, as applicable,

    • (a) an agreement that is entered into as a result of bargaining sessions referred to in paragraph 19(1)(a) or mediation sessions referred to in paragraph 19(1)(b); or

    • (b) an arbitration panel’s decision that is deemed to be an agreement under section 42. (accord assujetti)

    digital news intermediary

    digital news intermediary means an online communications platform, including a search engine or social media service, that is subject to the legislative authority of Parliament and that makes news content produced by news outlets available to persons in Canada. It does not include an online communications platform that is a messaging service the primary purpose of which is to allow persons to communicate with each other privately. (intermédiaire de nouvelles numériques)

    eligible

    eligible in relation to a news business, means that the business is designated under subsection 27(1). (admissible)

    entity

    entity includes a corporation or a trust, partnership, fund, joint venture or any other unincorporated association or organization. (entité)

    Indigenous news outlet

    Indigenous news outlet means an undertaking or any distinct part of an undertaking whose primary purpose is to produce news content and that

    • (a) is operated by an individual who belongs to an Indigenous group, community or people; and

    • (b) produces news content primarily for Indigenous peoples. (média d'information autochtone)

    Indigenous peoples

    Indigenous peoples has the meaning assigned by the definition aboriginal peoples of Canada in subsection 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982. (peuples autochtones)

    Minister

    Minister means the Minister of Canadian Heritage or, if another federal minister is designated under section 5, that minister. (ministre)

    news business

    news business means an individual or entity that operates a news outlet in Canada. (entreprise de nouvelles)

    news content

    news content means content — in any format, including an audio or audiovisual format — that reports on, investigates or explains current issues or events of public interest and includes such content that an Indigenous news outlet makes available by means of Indigenous storytelling. (contenu de nouvelles)

    news outlet

    news outlet means an undertaking or any distinct part of an undertaking whose primary purpose is to produce news content and includes an Indigenous news outlet or an official language minority community news outlet. (média d’information)

    official language minority community

    official language minority community means English-speaking communities in Quebec and French-speaking communities outside Quebec. (communauté de langue officielle en situation minoritaire)

    official language minority community news outlet

    official language minority community news outlet means an undertaking or any distinct part of an undertaking whose primary purpose is to produce news content and that produces news content primarily for an official language minority community. (média d’information de communauté de langue officielle en situation minoritaire)

    operator

    operator means an individual or entity that, through any means, operates a digital news intermediary. (exploitant)

  • Marginal note:Making available of news content

    (2) For the purposes of this Act, news content is made available if

    • (a) the news content, or any portion of it, is reproduced; or

    • (b) access to the news content, or any portion of it, is facilitated by any means, including an index, aggregation or ranking of news content.

Marginal note:Freedom of expression

  •  (1) For greater certainty, this Act is to be interpreted and applied in a manner that is consistent with freedom of expression.

  • Marginal note:Journalistic independence

    (2) This Act is to be interpreted and applied in a manner that supports the journalistic independence enjoyed by news outlets in relation to news content produced primarily for the Canadian news marketplace, including local, regional and national news content.

  • Marginal note:Treatment of news content

    (3) This Act is to be interpreted and applied in a manner that is aimed at ensuring news content is made available by digital news intermediaries without undue manipulation or interference.

Purpose

Marginal note:Purpose

 The purpose of this Act is to regulate digital news intermediaries with a view to enhancing fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace and contributing to its sustainability, including the sustainability of news businesses in Canada, in both the non-profit and for-profits sectors, including independent local ones.

Designation of Minister

Marginal note:Designation

 The Governor in Council may, by order, designate any federal minister to be the Minister referred to in this Act.

Application

Marginal note:Application

 This Act applies in respect of a digital news intermediary if, having regard to the following factors, there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between its operator and news businesses:

  • (a) the size of the intermediary or the operator;

  • (b) whether the market for the intermediary gives the operator a strategic advantage over news businesses; and

  • (c) whether the intermediary occupies a prominent market position.

Marginal note:Duty to notify

  •  (1) If this Act applies in respect of a digital news intermediary, its operator must so notify the Commission.

  • Marginal note:Information required

    (2) An individual or entity that operates an online communications platform must, at the request of the Commission and within the time and in the manner that it specifies, provide the Commission with any information that it requires for the purpose of verifying compliance with subsection (1) or preventing non-compliance with it.

Marginal note:List of digital news intermediaries

  •  (1) The Commission must maintain a list of digital news intermediaries in respect of which this Act applies. The list must set out each intermediary’s operator and contact information for that operator and specify whether an order made under subsection 11(1) or 12(1) applies in relation to the intermediary.

  • Marginal note:Statutory Instruments Act

    (2) The Statutory Instruments Act does not apply in respect of the list maintained under subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:Publication

    (3) The Commission must publish the list on its website.

Marginal note:Broadcasting

 This Act does not apply in respect of a digital news intermediary that is a broadcasting undertaking in respect of its broadcasting, as those terms are defined in subsection 2(1) of the Broadcasting Act.

Marginal note:Telecommunications service providers

 For greater certainty, this Act does not apply to a telecommunications service provider, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Telecommunications Act, when it is acting solely in that capacity.

Exemptions

Marginal note:Exemption order

  •  (1) The Commission must make an exemption order in relation to a digital news intermediary if its operator requests the exemption and the following conditions are met:

    • (a) the operator has entered into agreements with news businesses that operate news outlets that produce news content primarily for the Canadian news marketplace and the Commission is of the opinion that, taken as a whole, the agreements satisfy the following criteria:

      • (i) they provide for fair compensation to the news businesses for the news content that is made available by the intermediary,

      • (ii) they ensure that an appropriate portion of the compensation will be used by the news businesses to support the production of local, regional and national news content,

      • (iii) they do not allow corporate influence to undermine the freedom of expression and journalistic independence enjoyed by news outlets,

      • (iv) they contribute to the sustainability of the Canadian news marketplace,

      • (v) they ensure a significant portion of independent local news businesses benefit from them, they contribute to the sustainability of those businesses and they encourage innovative business models in the Canadian news marketplace,

      • (vi) they involve a range of news outlets in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors and they were entered into with news businesses that reflect a diversity of business models that provide services to all markets and diverse populations, including local and regional markets in every province and territory, anglophone and francophone communities, and Black and other racialized communities,

      • (vii) they ensure a significant portion of Indigenous news outlets benefit from them and they contribute to the sustainability of those outlets in a way that supports the provision of news content by and for Indigenous peoples, and

      • (viii) they ensure a significant portion of official language minority community news outlets benefit from them and they contribute to the sustainability of those outlets in a way that supports the provision of news content by and for official language minority communities;

    • (a.1) the Commission has held public consultations in accordance with any conditions that its Chairperson may specify; and

    • (b) any condition set out in regulations made by the Governor in Council.

  • Marginal note:Effect of order

    (2) The order exempts the operator, in relation to the intermediary, from the application of

    • (a) section 21 and any provision of any regulations made under section 85 that is in relation to section 21; and

    • (b) any other provision of this Act and any provision of any regulations made under subsection 81(1) or section 85 that is specified by the Commission, in its discretion, in the order.

  • Marginal note:Conditions

    (3) The order may contain any conditions the Commission considers appropriate.

  • Marginal note:Approval of Treasury Board

    (4) The order is subject to the approval of the Treasury Board if the order exempts the operator from the application of section 82 or any provision of any regulations made under subsection 81(1).

  • Marginal note:Duration of order

    (5) The order remains in effect for a period of not more than five years and, subject to this section, may be renewed.

Marginal note:Interim order

  •  (1) The Commission may, in relation to a digital news intermediary, make an interim order that has the same effect as an exemption order if the following conditions are met:

    • (a) its operator has requested an exemption order in relation to the intermediary;

    • (b) the operator has entered into agreements with news businesses that operate news outlets that produce news content primarily for the Canadian news marketplace;

    • (c) the Commission is unable to make the exemption order because it is of the opinion that, taken as a whole, the agreements do not satisfy the criteria set out in subparagraphs 11(1)(a)(i) to (viii); and

    • (d) the Commission is of the opinion that it will be able to change its opinion because the operator is, in good faith, taking measures that will permit the criteria to be satisfied within a reasonable period, which period must not be longer than one year.

  • Marginal note:Conditions

    (2) The interim order must contain conditions respecting the measures being taken by the operator and may contain any other condition the Commission considers appropriate, including a condition requiring that public consultations be held at a time and place in Canada to be fixed by the Commission.

  • Marginal note:Approval of Treasury Board

    (3) The interim order is subject to the approval of the Treasury Board if the order exempts the operator from the application of a provision referred to in sub­section 11(4).

  • Marginal note:Cessation of effect

    (4) The interim order must specify the period referred to in paragraph (1)(d) and ceases to have effect at the end of that period.

Marginal note:For greater certainty

 For greater certainty, agreements referred to in paragraph 11(1)(a) or 12(1)(b) include agreements that were entered into before the day on which this section comes into force.

Marginal note:Review

  •  (1) For greater certainty, the Commission may review an exemption order or an interim order.

  • Marginal note:Repeal of exemption order

    (2) The Commission may repeal an exemption order if

    • (a) the Commission is of the opinion that the operator of the digital news intermediary in question is acting in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act;

    • (b) a condition referred to in subsection 11(1) is no longer met; or

    • (c) a condition contained in the exemption order is not met.

  • Marginal note:Repeal of interim order

    (3) The Commission may repeal an interim order if

    • (a) the Commission is of the opinion that the operator of the digital news intermediary in question is acting in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act;

    • (b) a condition referred to in paragraph 12(1)(c) or (d) is no longer met; or

    • (c) a condition contained in the interim order is not met.

Marginal note:Reasons

 The Commission must publish on its website reasons for

  • (a) making or not making a requested exemption order;

  • (b) deciding to make or not to make an interim order; and

  • (c) deciding to repeal an exemption order or interim order.

Marginal note:Statutory Instruments Act

 The Statutory Instruments Act does not apply in respect of an exemption order or an interim order.

 

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