The majority of Canadians support government bailouts for media organizations that have faced falling advertising revenues since the COVID-19 pandemic closed businesses across the country, according to a new poll.
The survey was conducted by Nanos Research for FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, a non-partisan media watchdog, and was released Monday.
It was found that seven out of 10 Canadians support (26 percent), or more accurately (41 percent) the federal government sends financial assistance to failed news organizations.
The majority of Canadians also agree (36 percent), or somewhat agree (26 percent) that Ottawa must treat bankruptcy and termination of the media as an emergency because journalism is very important to “safeguard the safety of Canadians” during this crisis.
A country which cannot speak to itself no longer becomes
The survey noted that Canadian media outlets had seen advertising revenue fall by 60 percent, and nearly 500 journalists were laid off in the first two weeks of lockouts.
Torstar, which publishes several daily newspapers including the Toronto Star, announced Monday that it will eliminate 85 positions and cut its operating budget to offset the loss of advertising revenue.
The government previously announced a $ 30 million COVID-19 awareness advertising campaign in an effort to support the struggling Canadian media industry. And Ottawa said it was getting closer to implementing the long-promised tax credit for newspapers.
However, the measures were widely criticized for being too few to make a real difference, including Mark Lever, the president of SaltWire Network, a a newspaper chain in the Atlantic of Canada that dismissed 240 employees – or about 40 percent of its workforce – last month and closed several publications.
“Many of our most famous journalism outlets face impending failure, even after the proposed tax credit and wage subsidies from the government are calculated,” said FRIENDS Executive Director, Daniel Bernhard. “This is an acute emergency and Canada wants Ottawa to intervene quickly to save these trusted institutions from mass extinction.
“Our democracy and our future as an independent nation are at stake. A country that cannot talk to itself is no longer like that. If we lose our media, we lose our country. “
When the stakes are this high, only professional journalists can be trusted to tell the truth
The survey also found that most Canadians trust traditional media more than social media to provide accurate information during a crisis. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) think the content in social media posts is inaccurate. Only 10 percent believe that social media is as accurate as traditional media, while four percent think it is more accurate.
“Canadians are very clear that when the stakes are this high, only professional journalists can be trusted to tell the truth,” Bernhard said. “It’s time for Ottawa to put an end to unfair profits and preferential tax policies that help untrusted companies like Facebook sink the Canadian newsroom.”
Canada also supports (41 percent), or somewhat supports (31 percent) increasing funding for the CBC.
The survey was conducted via landline, cellphone, and online between March 30 and April 2 as part of the omnibus survey. Nanos Research conducted a random survey of 1,036 Canadians aged 18 years and over. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times 20.
– with files from The Canadian Press
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