Parliamentary panel ponders digital fund to support ailing community newspapers

Parliamentary panel ponders digital fund to support ailing community newspapers - image
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OTTAWA – Members of a parliamentary committee studying Canada’s slumping media industry say they’re struggling to put the finishing touches on a long-awaited report that could, among other things, recommend Ottawa create a digital fund to provide temporary help to revenue-starved smaller newspapers.

The heritage committee study of Canada’s fast-changing media landscape began more than a year ago and some of its members have voiced frustration with how long it has taken to formally provide the Liberal government with recommendations for helping the media industry cope with sliding advertising revenues.

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Sources familiar with a draft version of the committee’s report say one proposed recommendation would see the creation of a fund to lend community news services a hand in transitioning from print to online versions of their papers.

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But they say the committee is grappling over how to regulate such a fund.

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Committee members met behind closed doors this week to debate the contents of the report and are expected to meet again next week before sending a final version out for translation, possibly before the May long weekend.

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, who sits on the committee, acknowledges the media industry needs help. But he says a key concern for him and other committee members is ensuring that tax dollars – if any – earmarked for small newspapers don’t end up in the hands of large corporate owners rather than the intended recipients.

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