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COVID-19 crisis: Most Canadians support bailout for media organizations, poll finds
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COVID-19 crisis: Most Canadians support bailout for media organizations, poll finds

Écrit par
Aileen Donnelly
Publié par
NATIONAL POST
le
06 avril 2020

New Nanos poll found that seven in 10 Canadians support (26 per cent), or somewhat support (41 per cent) the federal government sending financial aid to failing news organizations.

The majority of Canadians support government bailouts for media organizations that are facing a collapse in advertising revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down 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 found that seven in 10 Canadians support (26 per cent), or somewhat support (41 per cent) the federal government sending financial aid to failing news organizations.

A majority of Canadians also agree (36 per cent), or somewhat agree (26 per cent) that Ottawa should treat media bankruptcies and layoffs as an emergency because journalism is essential to “keeping Canadians safe” during this crisis.

The survey notes that Canadian media outlets have seen advertising revenues fall by as much as 60 per cent, and nearly 500 journalists were laid off in the first two weeks of the lockdown.

Torstar, which publishes several daily newspapers including the Toronto Star, announced on Monday that it would eliminate 85 positions and cut its operating budget to offset advertising revenue losses.

The government previously announced a $30-million COVID-19 awareness advertising campaign in an effort to support Canada’s struggling media industry. And Ottawa said it was moving closer to implementing long-promised tax credits for newspapers.

However, the measures were widely criticized as too little to make a real difference, including Mark Lever, the president of SaltWire Network, a newspaper chain in Atlantic Canada that laid off 240 employees — or about 40 per cent of its workforce — last month and shuttered several of its publications.

“Many of our most prominent journalism outlets face imminent failure, even after the government’s proposed tax credits and wage subsidies are factored in,” FRIENDS’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard said. “This is an acute emergency and Canadians want Ottawa to intervene quickly to save these trusted institutions from mass extinction.

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“Our democracy and our future as an independent country are at stake. A country that can’t talk to itself ceases to be. If we lose our media, we lose our country.”

The survey also found that most Canadians trust traditional media more than social media outlets to deliver accurate information during a crisis. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) think content in social media posts is less accurate. Only 10 per cent believe social media is as accurate as traditional media, while four per cent think it is more accurate.

“Canadians are very clear that when the stakes are this high, only professional journalists can be trusted to deliver the truth,” Bernhard said. “It’s time for Ottawa to end the unfair advantages and preferential tax policies that help untrusted companies like Facebook sink Canada’s newsrooms.”

Canadians also support (41 per cent), or somewhat support (31 per cent) increasing funding for the CBC.

The survey was conducted over landlines, cellphones and online between March 30 and April 2 as part of an omnibus survey. Nanos Research carried out a random survey of 1,036 Canadians aged 18 and over. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© National Post