The number of media subsidy programs provided by the federal government keeps growing.
At the moment, there’s:
Canadaland has obtained a document of the recipients of a $23.5 million media assistance fund that doled out money to free, digital, and small-circulation magazines and weekly newspapers.
Government-approved news outlets are not restricted to one fund, and there are overlaps between recipients.
All of this funding comes while various news outlets have been receiving other COVID-relief subsidies, primarily the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
(Canadaland has received money from the CEWS, but does not solicit or accept any media-related funding from any branch of government).
Publications such as Canadian Business, the Logic, and various Torstar and Black Press newspapers received funding from the $23.5 million media assistance fund the Trudeau government set up to aid news outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The names of the publications that received funding remained undisclosed to the public until last month. (The full list can be found at the bottom of this article).
Department of Canadian Heritage spokesperson Daniel Savoie said in a statement there were 763 publications accepted for this program.
“In recent years, the news media sector has seen its advertising revenues rapidly decreasing to the benefit of tech giants,” said Savoie. “The pandemic has also severely affected the sector and still today, revenues have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.”
Torstar publications garnered a total of $2.7 million from the assistance fund. The Torstar publication that received the most money was Niagara This Week at $135,302.
Torstar collected further funding from the media bailout and the CEWS.
Black Press affiliates earned $2.1 million from the assistance fund. The Black Press publication that obtained the largest sum of money was the Chilliwack Progress at $106,135.
Black Press took $5.2 million from the relief fund and funding from the top-up fund.
The individual publication receiving the largest amount of the media assistance fund was Better Farming Ontario at $171,355.
St. Joseph Communications (SJC) Media publication Canadian Business received $30,016 from the assistance fund.
Canadian Business collected $41,594 from the emergency relief fund. SJC Heritage registered for the CEWS.
“Our company remains grateful for the support during the toughest stretches of the pandemic,” said SJC Media content and creative vice-president Maryam Sanati.
The Logic received $149,793 from the assistance fund. Logic editor-in-chief David Skok first opposed the media bailout, but he has changed his position.
“The Logic was founded on the belief that journalistic independence comes from financial independence,” said Skok. “As I wrote in a 2018 column, if we don’t apply for government grants available to the company, we are putting the Logic at a severe disadvantage in retaining talent and securing investment in a marketplace distorted by government and big tech intervention that rewards incumbent firms.”
The Logic received money from the media bailout, $218,049 from the emergency relief fund, and the CEWS.
Another $149,793 was doled out to Xtra Magazine.
Pink Triangle Press senior process and policy director Ken Hickling referred Canadaland to the publication’s editorial standards and policies. Xtra’s policies state it aims to be “an independent, queer-run media company.”
Various Ming Pao Newspapers publications claimed $74,385 from the assistance fund.
A report from the Center for International Media Assistance in 2013 said Ming Pao is a “Beijing-friendly” news company, catering to Chinese Communist Party sensibilities.
Ming Pao received additional money from the relief fund and the top-up fund.
Sing Tao Newspapers publication Canadian City Post obtained $21,938 from the assistance fund.
This news company publishes routine pro-CCP stories.
Sing Tao took $199,192 from the relief fund and the CEWS.
Savoie said the Canadian government should help to fund news outlets because democracy depends on a healthy news ecosystem.
“Canadians expect to have access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information,” he said. “It helps them make informed decisions, including how to stay healthy and safe.”
Jonathan Bradley is a reporter who has contributed stories to the National Post and the Western Standard.