VANCOUVER: A source familiar with the company’s thinking said on Wednesday that Facebook is exploring potential licensing agreements next year with Canadian media and expanding its investment in local journalism initiatives.
The move comes as the Canadian government prepares to introduce legislation in the coming months, similar to the controversial Australian model that forces tech companies such as Facebook and Alphabet Inc Google to pay media companies for content.
But the source said Facebook viewed the situation in Australia as unique.
“You are looking at a country that is largely controlled by a large media conglomerate that has a very large impact on government and government policies,” the source said, noting that most countries do not have that.
News Corp. owned by Rupert Murdoch owns two-thirds of the major newspapers in Australian cities.
Conversations about licensing are taking place at a high level, and the source has compared potential licensing agreements to those that Facebook has acquired for using music in Instagram stories and reels.
The source, who is not authorized to speak about the matter publicly, declined to disclose which Canadian publishers Facebook would consider whether to license the conversations or how much it had budgeted.
Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Stephen Gilbault, who is in charge of drafting the legislation, condemned Facebook’s decision to shut down all news sites in Australia for several days, and said it would not deter Ottawa from introducing new rules.
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will raise its funding for news publishers to $ 1 billion over three years.
Canada’s news media industry has strongly opposed Facebook and has demanded that the government further regulation of technology companies, to allow the industry to offset the financial losses it incurred in the years that Facebook and Google have steadily gained greater market shares from advertising.