GOVERNMENT WILL UNDERWRITE ‘TRUSTED’ SOURCES
In what is a new twist in the downward spiral of a free and unfettered press that covers the news without fear or favor, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled a multi-pronged life ring of tax breaks for news organizations that include tax breaks for citizens who buy subscriptions to approved news providers.
The plan was announced Wednesday and will bring nearly $600 million to news organizations that have the stamp of approval from the government.
“It’s necessary to have a journalism sector that is robust in our democracy,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters after the announcement at Parliament.
The Toronto Star reports that the tax credit will allow subscribers to deduct 15 percent of the cost of subscriptions to digital news media in order to help those organizations survive.
The initiative spans five years and includes aid to nonprofit news organizations and other tax breaks for for-profit news groups, such at the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, to pay for the labor of journalists. A panel made up of executives from the news industry will decide which news companies are considered “trusted sources” of news, and which roles in news gathering and reporting will be subsidized.
Some news organizations that are for profit organizations will be treated as nonprofits, allowing them to receive donations from foundations and other philanthropic support, for which the donors would receive tax deductions. Normally, only contributions to charitable organizations are tax deductible, but the new policy allows newspapers to receive the benefits of nonprofits, while still remaining for-profit.
The tax credits will go to qualifying news organizations that “produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians.”
The news subsidy package goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.