Heritage minister says Ottawa not ruling out helping newspaper industry

MONTREAL – The federal government isn’t ruling out offering financial support to the struggling newspaper industry, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said Friday.

Newspapers are hurting and all options to help them are being considered, she told reporters after giving a speech to the Montreal Board of Trade.

“I fully appreciate the struggles that different media are facing,” she said. “I have said several times: everything is on the table. I am ready to talk about the different tools we have as a government to help and promote these areas.”

Asked specifically if her government is excluding offering money, she said, “my team is ready to look at all scenarios.”

Joly said she is maintaining an open invitation to all media stakeholders to participate in her department’s ongoing public consultations on the future of Canadian content in a digital world.

Several Quebec-based newspapers recently asked the federal and provincial governments for a temporary financial aid package to help them with their online shift.

They also asked for governments to increase ad spending in their pages.

During her presentation to business leaders, Joly was asked about online platforms such as Netflix and whether they should be subject to Canadian content regulations as are other broadcasters operating in the country.

She said it will be tough for her government to start regulating the Internet.

“In the digital age, it’s extremely difficult to impose, through government legislation, a way for algorithms to work, considering the headquarters of these companies aren’t in Canada,” she said.