Quebec to come up with plan for failing newspapers

The Quebec government will table a long-term plan to help struggling news companies by this fall. Jacques Vachon/Global News

The Quebec government will table a long-term plan to help struggling news companies by this fall.

Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement Wednesday, two days after the government gave a $5-million loan to Capitales Médias Group, an ailing newspaper chain, to keep it in operation.

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Legault wants Quebecers to understand why his government loaned taxpayer money to a Quebec newspaper chain after it filed for creditor protection.

“I think it’s important for democracy that we have many media available in Quebec to inform the population,” Legault said.

Capitales Médias Group, which owns six daily newspapers like Le Soleil in Quebec City, filed for creditor protection Monday. They are not the only struggling Quebec media company.

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“Because of Bacebook and Google and what we call GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) we cannot have enough newspapers that can be profitable without the help of the government,” Legault said.

The Liberal opposition supports the government’s $5 million loan to Capitales Médias, but says there are solutions other than bailouts and government grants.

“When we were in power, we were the first government to really tax Netflix, for example, and create a fund to help those medias,” said Liberal Opposition leader Pierre Arcand.

Arcand said companies like Facebook and Google, who share news content on their platforms, should also pay a certain amount into a media fund. Legault said taxing companies like Facebook is a federal issue, although he is open to discussing the idea next week when a National Assembly committee begins to look into the matter.

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Quebecers can help media companies survive, according to Legault.

“I invite all Quebecers to subscribe to newspapers,” he said.

He said paying for news that you can potentially read online for nothing is important because “nothing is free.”


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