At a time when misinformation and disinformation pose an increasing threat to our democracy, it is more critical than ever that legislators and policymakers champion creative, immediate solutions to support Canadian newsrooms.

Canada’s private radio and TV broadcasters are Canadians’ primary source for local and national news. Private broadcasters invest more than $678 million annually to support the production of news, and they employ the most journalists. These journalists are highly skilled, undertaking hours of work including research, interviewing reliable sources, and synthesizing all the information they have gathered into professional news articles and scripts.

All of this work is underpinned by professional newsrooms that make it their mission to inform their communities, offering a window into one’s neighbourhood and sharing local perspectives on national and international events. In emergencies, crises and matters of national concern, this becomes even more vital as news and information from Canadian broadcasters are an essential lifeline.

However, while news programming is integral to Canadians’ lives and our democracy, it is also a significant challenge to sustain financially. Broadcasters have lost tens of millions of dollars on news in recent years, with advertising revenues under serious pressure due to foreign platforms and services funnelling Canadian dollars out of our domestic media economy.

Meanwhile, the costs involved in producing and acquiring entertainment programming continue to soar. At one time, those popular and successful programs could help underwrite the cost of news, but as the incursion of foreign behemoths continues to squeeze Canadian broadcasters’ margins, the ability to underwrite the production of news is profoundly inhibited.

Without urgent support, our professional newsrooms across the country will be weakened and ultimately unsustainable.

To protect these newsrooms that are essential to our democracy, the federal government must take into account the significant structural challenges they face. Our news organizations have lost the majority of their advertising revenues to foreign tech giants like Google and Meta, and it is important that broadcast newsrooms are provided with the same supports as other outlets in this climate.

Extending the Canadian journalism labour tax credit to broadcast news organizations would recognize that all newsrooms operate in our multimedia world, as broadcasters employ journalists to publish text-based reporting on their websites just as print media outlets provide audio and video through their digital properties. The status quo will only perpetuate the unfair and entirely irrelevant distinction between “print” and “broadcast” newsrooms.

Additionally, the government can prioritize Canada’s media organizations by dedicating a greater percentage of their advertising expenditures to local radio, TV, print and Canadian-owned digital media. Advertising is oxygen for Canadian media organizations, and this would be a meaningful change as the Government of Canada favoured spending on Google and Facebook/Instagram last year (23 per cent) over TV (15 per cent) and radio (4 per cent).

Canada needs to be far more alert and active in addressing the current state of media. In a few short years, the foreign digital giants have gone from being a presence in our sector to the dominant players, and they continue to take Canadian dollars out of our economy without supporting vital public goods, such as our newsrooms.

We know that TV and radio reach Canadians where they are, offering much-needed professional news and information when it is becoming harder to wade through the noise online. Not only that, but broadcasters are a hub for connection, as they frequently sponsor and engage with charity initiatives and community events.

It is time that we begin to use all of the tools at our disposal to counteract the longstanding challenges of today’s rapidly changing media environment, particularly for our news organizations. The health of our democracy and our communities depends on it.


Kevin Desjardins is President of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, which represents Canada’s private radio and TV stations as well as specialty services.