Canada To Waive Licensing Fees For Broadcasters Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Statement

TORONTO (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 31st March, 2020) The Canadian government will waive licensing fees for the broadcasters, as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic bites into media revenues, Department of Canadian Heritage said in a statement.

"After discussions with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will not issue letters requesting payment for Part I license fees by broadcasters for the 2020-21 fiscal year," the ministry said Monday.

The waived fees will allow the major broadcasters to retain more than $21 million in cash. The CRTC will be reimbursed out of the Federal budget.

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, said that the measure was important to alleviate some of the pressures the broadcasters face as advertising revenues drop amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guilbeault added that, "Canadian broadcasters are working hard to fulfill the mission of sharing credible and verified information with Canadians."

In February, the Heritage Minister made headlines after telling a Canadian outlet that his ministry would pursue licensing for media outlets operating in Canada, later backtracking on his earlier comments, saying that news agencies would be exempt from the media licensing requirement.

In September, the Trudeau government announced a $450 million "media bailout".

The Liberal government pledged that outlets that receive the Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization (QCJO) designation - conferred upon by Canada's revenue service and introduced on Wednesday - would be able to apply for a 25% tax credit on up to $41,300 of each eligible employee's salary, a maximum $10,300 subsidy per worker. Some independent outlets have been critical of the plan, pointing to a perceived favorable bias toward the mainstream media outlets.