Canada giv­ing tax cred­its, in­cen­tives to me­dia

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - BUSINESS -

OT­TAWA, On­tario — Canada’s fed­eral gov­ern­ment said Wed­nes­day it is step­ping in to help the strug­gling Cana­dian me­dia in­dus­try with new tax cred­its and in­cen­tives.

Cana­dian Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau said that the pack­age is worth nearly $600 mil­lion Cana­dian ($453 mil­lion U.S.) over the next five years. De­tails of the pro­gram won’t be avail­able un­til the next fed­eral bud­get.

Most of the ex­pense will be for a new tax credit for me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions to sup­port the la­bor costs of pro­duc­ing orig­i­nal news con­tent. A tem­po­rary tax credit will also be cre­ated for sub­scribers to dig­i­tal news me­dia sites.

Non­profit me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions will also be al­lowed to ap­ply for char­i­ta­ble sta­tus. That will en­able them to is­sue tax re­ceipts for dona­tions.

“To pro­tect the vi­tal role that in­de­pen­dent news me­dia play in our democ­racy and in our com­mu­ni­ties, we will be in­tro­duc­ing mea­sures to help sup­port jour­nal­ism in Canada,” Morneau said in Par­lia­ment.

John Hon­derich, chair of Torstar Corp., which owns the Toronto Star and a num­ber of other news­pa­pers as well as a share of The Cana­dian Press, said he is en­cour­aged by the pro­pos­als.

“They should sig­nif­i­cantly help the me­dia sec­tor as it trans­forms to a sus­tain­able dig­i­tal fu­ture,” he said in a state­ment.

More than 250 news out­lets in Canada have closed in the last 10 years and news­pa­per rev­enues alone are down as much as 40 per­cent since 2012.

Op­po­si­tion Con­ser­va­tive fi­nance critic Pierre Poilievre said his party would never en­dorse as­sis­tance for jour­nal­ism. The Con­ser­va­tives be­lieve gov­ern­ment help for jour­nal­ists in­ter­feres with press free­dom and Poilievre said the gov­ern­ment is choos­ing who gets to sit on a panel that will ul­ti­mately de­cide which news or­ga­ni­za­tions sur­vive and which don’t.

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