When in doubt, subsidize

Finally, something sillier than the BBC licence fee:

A tax credit Ottawa is promising to encourage more Canadians to pay for online news will roughly cover two months of a digital subscription fee.

The tax credit is one of three components of a $595-million, five-year boost for the ailing media industry promised by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in last week’s fall fiscal update — along with tax credit for the labour costs news companies incur to produce original content and offering charitable status to non-profit media organizations.

The tax credit will be worth 15 per cent of the cost of a subscription, although Finance Canada spokesman Jack Aubry says the actual dollar amount someone will save depends on the cost of a subscription.

For example, Aubry says someone who pays $200 a year to get access to a news site online would be entitled to a tax credit worth $30.

He says the government believes the tax credit is needed to encourage more Canadians to subscribe to online news and help media organizations transition to a more sustainable business model.

In other news, there is apparently at least one Canadian news site charging $200 a year.

And what happens after five years? Either (1) the subsidy goes away, and news providers go back into the toilet, or (2) the subsidy doesn’t go away, and it becomes part of the permanent landscape.

Political scientist Chris Lawrence predicts: “This idea ends poorly.”


  1. fillyjonk »

    28 November 2018 · 11:46 am

    ANY news site, or are they going to list which ones qualify? I think of the school district that started mandating “volunteer service hours” from graduating seniors, but essentially were all NO WE DIDN’T MEAN THAT KIND OF SERVICE to kids who said “Great! I will volunteer to do mission work through my church”

    I concur with the political scientist.

    I mean, yeah, the alternative is maybe sites either going away or so larded up with ads and crap you don’t want to use them, but….

  2. McGehee »

    28 November 2018 · 11:47 am

    Maybe instead of charging the audience for information, the people wanting to put it out there should be responsible for the costs and methods. Journalism was far more noble when it was practiced by pamphleteers than by corporations.

  3. hollyh »

    29 November 2018 · 8:46 am

    Of all the extinctions driven by today’s naked capitalism, real journalism is one of the most disturbing. And dangerous.

  4. Jack Baruth »

    29 November 2018 · 2:50 pm

    What’s a premium subscription to Alex Jones Infowars Frog Diaries cost now?

  5. CGHill »

    29 November 2018 · 7:16 pm

    If Jones is setting his own price, it’s equal to Jack Dorsey’s Uber bill.

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