An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

In committee (Senate), as of June 29, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-10.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Broadcasting Act to, among other things,

(a) add online undertakings — undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet — as a distinct class of broadcasting undertakings;

(b) update the broadcasting policy for Canada set out in section 3 of that Act by, among other things, providing that the Canadian broadcasting system should serve the needs and interests of all Canadians — including Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds — and should provide opportunities for Indigenous persons, programming that reflects Indigenous cultures and that is in Indigenous languages, and programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities;

(c) specify that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the “Commission”) must regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system in a manner that

(i) takes into account the different characteristics of Indigenous language broadcasting and the different conditions under which broadcasting undertakings that provide Indigenous language programming operate,

(ii) is fair and equitable as between broadcasting undertakings providing similar services,

(iii) facilitates the provision of programs that are accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities, and

(iv) takes into account the variety of broadcasting undertakings to which that Act applies and avoids imposing obligations on a class of broadcasting undertakings if doing so will not contribute in a material manner to the implementation of the broadcasting policy;

(d) amend the procedure relating to the issuance by the Governor in Council of policy directions to the Commission;

(e) replace the Commission’s power to impose conditions on a licence with a power to make orders imposing conditions on the carrying on of broadcasting undertakings;

(f) provide the Commission with the power to require that persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings make expenditures to support the Canadian broadcasting system;

(g) authorize the Commission to provide information to the Minister responsible for that Act, the Chief Statistician of Canada and the Commissioner of Competition, and set out in that Act a process by which a person who submits certain types of information to the Commission may designate the information as confidential;

(h) amend the procedure by which the Governor in Council may, under section 28 of that Act, set aside a decision of the Commission to issue, amend or renew a licence or refer such a decision back to the Commission for reconsideration and hearing;

(i) specify that a person shall not carry on a broadcasting undertaking, other than an online undertaking, unless they do so in accordance with a licence or they are exempt from the requirement to hold a licence;

(j) harmonize the punishments for offences under Part II of that Act and clarify that a due diligence defence applies to the existing offences set out in that Act; and

(k) allow for the imposition of administrative monetary penalties for violations of certain provisions of that Act or of the Accessible Canada Act.

The enactment also makes related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 22, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 21, 2021 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.22; Group 1; Clause 46.1)
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.18; Group 1; Clause 23)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.13; Group 1; Clause 10)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.8; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.5; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.4; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Passed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.10; Group 1; Clause 8)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.2; Group 1; Clause 7)
June 21, 2021 Failed Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment — Motion No.1; Group 1; Clause 3)
June 7, 2021 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 5:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-10, the first of the long-awaited bills from our heritage minister.

The Liberal government has been working on this bill for five years. We have gone through five years, three ministers, a media crisis, a cultural industry in jeopardy, a Yale report and, just to take things to another level, a pandemic that has finished off many players in this industry that we all enjoy.

When the Yale report was released, the minister said that he would not wait for a bill to intervene and that he was going to make changes via regulation. We are here today to talk about a bill that will change the CRTC's regulatory powers.

Members will understand my lukewarm reaction to this bill. All that for this? Even some important industry players, a few of whom my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska spoke about earlier, reacted enthusiastically at first but then tempered their views a few days later and recognized that there were still a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up before this bill passes muster.

When someone takes that long to bake a cake, people expect it to be covered in icing and nicely decorated.

Here is a little history lesson. In 1929, the government of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau enacted a broadcasting act for Quebec, the first of its kind in Canada. Three years later, on May 26, 1932, the Bennett government here in Ottawa passed the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act, the first of its kind. The act created a broadcasting regulatory body, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, which was to regulate and control all Canadian broadcasting and establish a national service.

At the time, speaking right here in the House, Prime Minister Bennett stressed the idea of complete Canadian control over broadcasting as well as the benefits of public versus private ownership. The act also stated that the airwaves were a public asset and that the government had a duty and a role to play in monitoring their use. From the very beginning, it was understood that broadcasting, the people's primary means of communication, should be under Canadian control. Quebec had realized that three years earlier, but that happens a lot. We can come back to that later.

This year, we had reason to expect a major overhaul of the act because, as we have heard repeatedly, it has not been altered substantially since 1991.

Here is another little reminder to provide some context. Back in 1991, we were recording our music on little cassette tapes and programming our VCRs to record L'Or du temps, Entre chien et loup or Les Filles de Caleb, at least in Quebec. The current House Leader of the Official Opposition was a journalist at TQS in Quebec at the time, and the winner of album of the year at the ADISQ gala was Gerry Boulet's Rendez-vous doux.

That provides some perspective and serves to remind us how long this act has been in need of reform. I agree that an overhaul was urgently needed.

I think that Bill C-10 provides a very interesting foundation on which something solid and lasting could be built to respond to today's broadcasting reality. However, urgent action is needed. This is according to the Yale report, and Ms. Yale herself, not me.

This bill needs far too much work for it to be fast-tracked. While this may be urgent, we will not rush the work, and we will not cut corners. The world of broadcasting is extremely complex and has transformed radically over the past 30 years.

I have another little story to share. In the early 2000s, a senior CRTC executive said that it would be pointless to pass legislation for online broadcasting because no one would ever watch TV on their phone. Today, who does not have a mobile device they use to watch videos, news clips and sometimes entire shows?

That was 20 years ago. Just imagine the challenges we will face in the next 10, 20 or 30 years in the broadcasting industry. Today, it is important to demonstrate vision, but also prudence, when making decisions about Bill C-10, because we may have to live with the consequences for a long time.

I think that everyone basically agrees that many elements are missing from this bill. We expected something more substantial.

I will not repeat everything that my colleagues have already said, but I will list some of the missing elements that I am particularly concerned about, especially when it comes to the issue of hate speech and the dissemination of fake news. The purpose of a bill is not necessarily to tell the CRTC how to do things, but to clearly state the government's intent. When the CRTC enforces the regulations, it will have to keep in mind the intent of the legislation it is using and have a clear understanding of it.

I think it would have been a good idea to incorporate into the legislation an obligation for online broadcasters to put safeguards in place against hate speech and against the ever-popular fake news. Right now, content sharing platforms are subject to the law, but when these platforms allow users to upload content, those users can continue to spread material that we would do well to regulate.

Members will not be surprised to hear that I think that the way the issue of French is addressed in this bill is pathetic. For example, it could have included slightly more rigorous, more sincere protections. Take, for example, clause 9.1, which states that the CRTC may impose conditions regarding the proportion of Canadian content and the discoverability of Canadian programs. I have no problem with that, but how hard would it have been to say the same thing about a fair proportion of French-language content? As Cicero said, “Quid enim Bonum est, Bonum canem felem”, which is Latin for “what is good for the goose is good for the gander”. Well, it may actually have been the centurion Crismus Bonus who said that in Asterix the Gaul, but never mind.

Another element that is missing from the bill is thresholds for investment in Canadian and French-language content. If the government does not give the CRTC parameters for specific expectations regarding contributions to content production, the CRTC will end up having to negotiate with companies or groups of companies. Given the weight that giants like Netflix can bring to bear on such negotiations, we can expect to see agreements that benefit some companies disproportionately at the expense of Canadian companies like Bell, Videotron and the rest, which currently have to invest 30% of their revenue in Canadian production.

Are they likely to tell the CRTC they want Netflix to pay more? Quite the opposite: they will lobby for equal treatment, which is perfectly reasonable. However, they too will demand the most advantageous treatment possible, which may be problematic because we want the system to benefit content creators, artists, and the francophone and Canadian cultural industry.

That section is important, because the future of the entire industry could be jeopardized if this protection is not put into law. I also agree that there is not a word about the CBC's mandate. The Yale report suggested a review of the Broadcasting Act as well as the mandate of our public broadcaster. Bill C-10 contains nothing on that.

A number of measures could have been taken. For example, the funding could have been reviewed, and funding parameters could have been set to avoid relying on advertising revenue, especially for educational programming. Funding over five years could have been introduced, with a renewal at the end of year four, to ensure greater predictability. The CBC licence renewal hearings will be held in just a few weeks or months from now. This would have been an excellent opportunity, which the government is passing up, much like leaving a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk because they are too tired to pick it up. I do not think it would have taken much effort.

Our regional news media are also complaining. In August, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, or CAB, sounded the alarm when it released data from a study indicating that, if nothing was done, 737 private radio stations could shut down in the next few months. In the next 18 months, up to 150 stations could close their doors. Private radio stations account for more than 2,000 jobs across the country. As the CAB clearly stated in its report, the broadcasting industry needs the government's help and regulations to ensure a more equitable and sustainable future. I do not know if the government got the message, but the answer is nowhere to be found in Bill C-10.

One of the most important measures that protects Canada's broadcasting market is paragraph 3(1)(a) of the act, which states that businesses must be effectively owned and controlled by Canadian interests. This requirement would be removed from the act on the grounds that it cannot apply to online broadcasters.

Since a legislative overhaul is justified by the growing presence of these online broadcasters in our market, it is reasonable to want to loosen the provision, but getting rid of it entirely is a leap I am not willing to take. Instead of making an exception for online businesses by taking into account the fact that they are often foreign businesses, the government has decided to eliminate nearly 90 years of Canadian ownership from the legislation.

In the Yale report, recommendation 53 states that the landscape of Canadian broadcasting should “consist of Canadian-owned and -controlled companies alongside foreign companies”. The wording was there. It was a good recommendation and it could have been used in Bill C-10. Opening the door to foreign acquisition of broadcasting companies is handing over the keys of our culture to someone who does not care one iota about it.

The absence of clear protection of francophone and Quebec culture has me deeply concerned. Quebec's cultural industry developed thanks to the protection measures put in place to preserve the place that the French language has in our anglophone ocean. It did not settle for the place it was given, but took advantage of the importance it was given to develop, diversify and shine around the world.

Francophone artists and artisans been able to learn a living from their art, but on top of that, our industry has been so strong that artists from all around the world, both francophones and anglophones, have chosen to settle in Quebec. That is a direct result of the hard work of our organizations and representatives from the music, entertainment, theatre, arts, film and television industries.

Shows that were created in Quebec have found audiences around the world. Take, for example, shows like Un gars, une fille, Les beaux malaises or 30 Vies, and then you have directors like Denis Villeneuve, Jean-Marc Vallée and Xavier Dolan. There are too many to name.

We need to protect the French language, especially now, because with the influx of money from digital platforms, producers will be tempted to create English content, since that market is much more lucrative. That is also a major argument in support of the Bloc Québécois's request to enshrine in law the requirement that 40% of money spent on Canadian productions be used to create French-language content.

Believing that the CRTC will protect French-language content on online distribution platforms is like believing in unicorns. The CRTC is already under enormous pressure from various lobbies. I cannot imagine what will happen when billionaire multinationals deploy their weapons of mass seduction to make their case before them. Our domestic cultural organizations will never be able to hold their own, and we will lose out.

The Broadcasting Act must set much clearer and more precise parameters for the CRTC without necessarily taking away its flexibility within those parameters. That is the distinction to make. We are not talking about interfering; we are simply talking about expressing expectations clearly so they are easy to understand. The government needs to take this all too rare opportunity to review the act much more seriously than it is doing now.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 5:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I think the minister and I should go out for a drink together. We clearly need to set the record straight.

I admire and commend his passion because I know that this file is extremely important to him. I am well aware of everything he had to navigate to get to Bill C-10. I would like to come back to something I was saying about the first question he asked.

He talked about measures that were put in place. I would like to elaborate on that point by talking about the tireless battle that Quebec's cultural industry has fought to preserve the French fact and Quebec culture in the vast North American anglophone ocean.

It is thanks to the countless representations of organizations before the CRTC—when radios and other agencies tried to relax the rules on music quotas, for example—it is thanks to their constant fight and the fact that they never gave up that we managed to develop a rather vibrant cultural economy and industry that, beyond Quebec culture, attracts artists from all over and now shines abroad.

To answer the minister's question, the game changer has been the arrival of digital content providers. It is not in the current Broadcasting Act because it was not needed before. However, the arrival of digital content providers has changed the entire market. It is altogether different. That is why we need clear measures that must be clearly articulated so the CRTC knows where the government wants to go with this.

Broadcasting ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2020 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in the debate with my colleagues in the House this evening.

We heard some very interesting comments. First, I would like to remind members of just how critical I think this bill is. We are talking about artists, artisans, technicians and people who work in the film, television and music industries. However, above and beyond economic development and jobs, which are very important, we are also talking about who we are and our identity as Quebeckers and Canadians. This is an important subject, and this is not just any industry. Our cultural industries define us, tell our stories, take us out into the world, and that is part of Quebec's and Canada's great national narrative.

It is with that in mind that I want to address this subject. It is not just important for sustainable and fair development and ensuring a level playing field for everyone in the ecosystem; it is about more than that, because it gives us more soul and defines us collectively.

I thought it was important to point that out from the beginning. This evening's speeches are not just administrative or technical. They are about who we are and how we should be seen and how we want to be seen by our fellow citizens and the rest of the world.

This is an interesting debate. It was decided years ago that the Hertzian waves were public property. If we lose sight of that, we are on the wrong track for understanding exactly why and how to legislate and regulate this sector.

It was decided that waves that move through the air, whether for television or radio, do not belong to any one company or individual, but rather are a collective good, a public property, whose use must be subject to rules. The CRTC was created to manage this public property, the airwaves, and to grant licences, or permits, to companies to use these airwaves to broadcast television programs, films, or music in the case of radio stations.

This system worked well for a while. Unfortunately, the Broadcasting Act has not been reviewed since 1991, which is around the time I was finishing high school.

Things have changed since then. Back then, no one wanted to intervene too much to regulate the new baby that had just arrived on the market, by which I mean the World Wide Web. They thought that this new medium was a new way to distribute content and that they would give this poor little thing a chance. They would not regulate or control it too much, but instead give it breathing room so that it could grow and thrive.

Over the years, the poor little thing has grown into a juggernaut that is crushing everyone in its path. It is part of life, and that is okay, but our legislative and regulatory framework was completely out of step with the significant role that Internet and web broadcasting came to play.

Then came the Yale report and its 97 recommendations. It includes many very serious elements and gave rise to an almost unanimous observation, namely that the success of a cultural, film, television or radio production sector depends on universal participation.

Right now, there are some stakeholders that do contribute and that are required to invest part of their revenue in the system to help our creators and producers of original Quebec and Canadian content. However, there are other stakeholders that do not. That point was raised by the Yale report, which stated that this situation cannot go on. For that reason, today we have Bill C-10, which tries to make the legislative changes that will get us there.

The intent is noble, and we agree with it. It is required. This bill should have been introduced 10 or 15 years ago. It is a little bit late.

That said, the bill has many flaws, and I will get to them. I believe that we have a duty as parliamentarians and members of opposition parties. Some of my Conservative and Bloc colleagues have demonstrated that they want to enhance and improve the bill by minimizing the flaws while retaining a certain flexibility and openness for the future.

This bill will not be reviewed every two or three years. It has not been reviewed in 30 years, and I hope we will not wait another 30 years. That said, I do not want to box us in or handcuff us.

How come, once again, some stakeholders are not contributing? This was not in the Yale report, but I bring it up because I do not understand this disconnect. When Vidéotron, my service provider, plugs a cable into my TV, it has to pay a 5% royalty to the Canada Media Fund to support the production of Quebec and Canadian cultural content. That is great. However, Vidéotron does not have to contribute a thing for the Wi-Fi device I have in my home. A cable is a cable. Whether it is transmitting cable TV or the Internet, everyone should have to contribute to helping our producers and creators deliver original Quebec and Canadian content. I still do not understand this.

This bill should have been much more ambitious, but I get the impression that the government was looking for the lowest common denominator. In the end, we did not end up with much. The NDP is worried that this bill does not really include everyone. Internet service providers are not included. Another quirk is that ad revenue earned by web giants like Facebook and Google is excluded. All of Facebook's and Google's revenue comes from advertising. Why did the Liberals choose to exclude Facebook's and Google's ad revenue from the bill? Would it have anything to do with the hundreds of meetings that assorted Liberal ministers have had with the web giants? That may be the case, although I hope not. This was a strange thing to leave out, and it will have an impact on help for the media and for journalism, which were also completely left out of this bill. I will come back to this later. We had hoped to see concrete measures to help newsrooms, journalists and people who are doing important journalistic work. We were close to getting something, but that all disappeared at the last minute. We have a lot of questions about this for the Liberal government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Another thing that is missing is YouTube. We can talk about television and film production, but we must not forget that the broadcasting bill also affects musicians. That is very important. For now, Bill C-10 appears to cover Spotify, but not YouTube, even though it is an indispensable platform for many artists, be they well established or up and coming. It is an absolutely fantastic way for artists to share their work and their creations. I use it, and so do my children and my friends. It is not covered, though.

I realize we need to draw a distinction with someone who takes a video of their cat in their basement and puts it on YouTube because they think it is cute. I get that Bill C-10 does not cover that. However, for artists like Pierre Lapointe and Ariane Moffatt, we can make that distinction and include YouTube so that it too contributes resources for the creation of more original Quebec and Canadian content.

The major things that are missing are social media, YouTube, Facebook's and Google's ad revenue, and Internet service providers. There are a lot of things missing. I am very much looking forward to the committee studying this bill and fixing all those problems.

What is more, the government has been telling us for months that it will make sure that Netflix collects GST. Other members spoke about that. That was supposed to happen without any problem, but it still has not been done. The Minister of Canadian Heritage will say that it is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, but could he not sit down with her to work on a plan and give us a clear indication of when the web giants and Netflixes of the world will have to collect GST like every other business in Quebec and Canada? For now, it is still just an empty promise.

Moreover, why are the GAFAM, the web giants, not paying taxes in Quebec and Canada when they are making a fortune? They are not paying a cent in taxes, nor are they helping to fund our health care and education systems or infrastructure in Quebec and Canada.

I want to share a statistic that I find very interesting that was recently released by Oxfam Canada. With the pandemic, some companies have made huge profits. Amazon is one of them. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, does not pay taxes in Canada. Amazon does not pay taxes in Canada. However, as we all know, online shopping has increased dramatically.

According to Oxfam-Québec, Amazon has 876,000 employees worldwide, and Jeff Bezos could write each and every one of them a cheque for $100,000 and still be as rich as he was before the pandemic. However, people like him are not paying taxes here. It is absolutely appalling. I would like the Liberals to show some backbone and promise to force these web giants to pay taxes in Quebec and Canada.

Furthermore, I am disappointed that there is no mention of CBC/Radio-Canada in the broadcasting bill. This is a bit worrisome, since CBC/Radio-Canada is a major player in content production, as well as journalism. It is as if it no longer exists. I would like to believe that the Minister of Canadian Heritage cares about the future of CBC/Radio-Canada, but there is no indication of any clear intentions in Bill C-10 at this time. We see this as a flaw that could be fixed and worked on in committee.

I am not the first to talk about this, but I want to emphasize that the NDP is not necessarily in favour of legislating quotas for French-language content. We think legislation is not necessarily the best place to put these objectives, because it is a bit constraining, and we want to provide some flexibility.

However, the legislation must provide clear direction and objectives. That is currently missing from the bill, and we very much doubt that the direction given to the Governor in Council or the CRTC on original French-language content will be very clear. We believe it is absolutely essential that the content be original, not purchased from abroad and dubbed by Canadian or Quebec actors. We want original content created in French.

We think there is a way to strengthen the wording of the legislation to ensure that it is extremely clear and essential that additional resources be provided for indigenous and Inuit productions, but also to ensure fair and equitable treatment for producers of French-language content, whether in television or film.

With regard to Canadian ownership of licensed undertakings, we share the same concerns about section 3 that have already been mentioned here. We want a system that allows us to preserve and protect the ownership rights of producers of Quebec and Canadian cultural content. We do not want them to be bought up by foreign companies. That is a major concern for us right now. It is the type of thing that we all need to work on together, to ensure that we end up with the best possible system.

On a more technical note, there is some uncertainty because we are moving from a licensing system to an order system.

With the licensing system, licences were renewed every five or seven years, and industry stakeholders and members of the public could participate and intervene in CRTC hearings.

Under the new system of orders and conditions of service, there does not seem to be a renewal process that offers an opportunity to challenge, add or change certain conditions. The NDP feels it is very important to put that on the agenda.

Furthermore, a process for petitioning the Governor in Council would allow industry stakeholders, creators, and artists to report violations of the spirit of the act, the directives or the orders. The option of filing a complaint seems to have disappeared in Bill C-10, and we would like the appeal process to be reinstated.

In closing, one of the elements missing from the bill is assistance for newsrooms and for the production of news content. Many web giants are stealing journalists' work and posting it on their websites. While these giants profit from this free content, newsrooms are suffering and journalists are losing their jobs. This is extremely important for our democratic life and social life. We were expecting that there would be something in this bill. It is very disappointing that there is no support for newsrooms.

I would like to share some figures. Between 2008 and 2018, 189 community newspapers and 36 daily newspapers were closed in Canada. In Quebec, 57 weekly or biweekly newspapers, 12 monthly and bimonthly newspapers, six online newspapers and one regional daily newspaper closed between 2011 and 2018. The sector has been devastated.

If we want to live in a democratic society with healthy, rational debates based on verifiable facts, we must force the web giants to financially compensate news organizations and journalists, which are doing very important work. Their work is not free. It must be compensated and rewarded.

We hope that the Liberal government will make adjustments and choose to help local and regional media.