Meta (Facebook and Instagram) are banning/restricting Campus/Community Radio stations from sharing any content. Why?

Recently, you may have heard about Meta (formerly known as Facebook) taking a significant step in Canada. They have made the decision to block all news sources in the country, affecting not only Facebook but also Instagram. 📵

📅 This decision was reported in the news as of August 1, 2023. You can read more about it here: 🔗 Fortune: https://fortune.com/2023/08/01/meta-facebook-news-blocking-in-canada/ 🔗 CTV News: https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/all-news-in-canada-will-be-removed-from-facebook-instagram-within-weeks-meta-1.6502469 🔗 National Post: https://nationalpost.com/news/why-meta-is-blocking-news-in-canada

🤔 You might be wondering why Meta has taken such a drastic measure. According to these reports, there are a few key reasons behind this decision:

1️⃣ Disagreement Over News Content: Meta has been in ongoing disputes with news organizations over the content displayed on their platforms. These disagreements could not be resolved, leading to the blocking of news sources entirely.

2️⃣ Proposed Legislation: The situation in Canada may be linked to proposed legislation that would have required social media companies to pay for news content shared on their platforms. Meta might have concerns about the potential financial impact and implications of this proposed law.

3️⃣ Misinformation and Fake News: With the rise of misinformation and fake news circulating on social media, Meta has faced criticism for its handling of such content. Blocking news sources might be an attempt to address these concerns and avoid potential legal consequences.

🔍 It’s essential to stay informed, and while this development might impact your access to news on Meta’s platforms, there are alternative sources to keep yourself updated on current events. Make sure to follow credible news outlets directly or use other social media platforms for reliable information.

Why does this impact Community Radio?
Not-For-Profit Radio was unanimously included in amendments to Bill C18 as it was passed because these stations are required by license to create local news at 15%, the only license required to do so (Note the CRTC Classifies Local News under SpokenWord – this does not necessarily mean breaking news but includes long-form and other types as part of all SpokenWord.). Meta refused to meet with Campus/Community Radio associations, and with the inclusion of them as mandated participants in discussion, these stations were put on the ban list – even though they are not 100% news outlets.

📣 Concerned citizens of Canada, your voice matters! 🇨🇦 If you disagree with Meta’s decision to block news sources in our country, it’s crucial to take action and let your concerns be heard. You can make a difference by reaching out to your Member of Parliament (MP) and Meta directly.

🏛️ Contact your MP: As elected representatives, MPs are here to advocate for your interests. Express your concerns about the impact of this news block on access to information and the importance of reliable news sources. Urge them to engage in dialogue with Meta and work towards a resolution that benefits both users and news organizations.

📧 Reach out to Meta: Let Meta know how you feel about their decision and its implications. Be respectful but assertive in voicing your opposition to the news block and highlight the significance of access to diverse and trustworthy news content. Your feedback can contribute to shaping their policies and approach moving forward.

Together, we can make a difference in ensuring that the public’s right to access reliable information is upheld. Let’s take action and stand up for an open and informed society! 🗣️🌐 #SpeakUp #VoiceYourConcerns #AccessToNews

Here are some articles that have covered the subject and its impact:

Facebook and Instagram’s Canadian News Blackout Is Crushing Student Journalists

Universities hit hard by Meta’s block of Canadian news


ABOUT THE SECTOR

The Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec (“ARCQ”), l’Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada (“ARCC”), and the National Campus and Community Radio Association/Association nationale des radios étudiantes et communautaires (“NCRA/ANREC”) are the three associations that are not-for-profit organizations committed to non-profit, community-owned,  and locally-reflective radio and online broadcasting. Together, we represent 84% of Canada’s licensed community radio broadcasters.

WHAT IS COMMUNITY RADIO IN CANADA

Community radio is about volunteerism, social engagement, independent music, learning by doing, community capacity building, citizen journalism and more. Here’s a quick sketch of Campus/Community radio in all our diversity.

Total watts of broadcasting power: 192,000+
Staff: 450 (Full-time equivalent) down from 700 pre-2020
Volunteer force: over 6,000 working an estimated 45,000 hours per week down from 10,000 pre-2020

Our volunteers are the cultural pioneers and opinion leaders of their local communities. Close to one-half of these volunteers are students and student leaders; they are opinion-makers, newsmakers, and trend-setters in their communities and future leaders of Canadian culture and society. As well the majority of these volunteers nationwide are artists, political and social activists, and members of multiple civil society organizations and grassroots movements.

Programming languages: at least 65 — English, French, Macedonian, Polish, Slovakian, Arabic, Hindi, Croatian, Serbian, Mandarin, Spanish, Cantonese, Somali, Polish, Italian, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, Hindi, Punjabi, Pakistani, Hungarian, Assyrian, Eritrean, German, Vietnamese, Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Klahoose, Portuguese, Amharic, Khmer, Polish, Kurdish, Azeri, Armenian, Tagalog, Turkish, Mandarin, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, Berber, Tamil, Haitian Creole, Bosnian, Bengali, Farsi, Somali, Eritrean, Cree, Hän, Algonquin, Nepalese, Tigrinya, Greek, Ethiopian, Eesti, Gaelic, Urdu, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Ojibway,  Mi’kmaq

Estimated population within the signal range of NCRA members: 23,771,000 Canadians, or over 75% of Canada’s population. Combined with the French language associations, this number is close to 90%

Our members are as diverse as the communities they serve and respond to local realities/needs in their programming, staffing, community development work, and their services and fundraising. There is no typical community-based radio station – all our members are exceptional!

Each dollar invested in Community Radio goes immeasurably farther in our community than money invested in other parts of the broadcasting sector. A far more significant portion of that investment will stay in the community where it is supported since our volunteer base is comprised of community-minded, grassroots, engaged citizens who participate in the local economy and use creative solutions to stretch their operating dollars.

Much of this economic impact is not reflected on traditional balance sheets. For example, a large portion of the advertising on c/c stations is targeted and priced for local independent businesses and non-profit organizations and may also be discounted, played for free as a public service announcement or exchanged for goods and services in-kind.

Community-based radio stations are community-owned, democratically-governed, non-share not-for-profit corporations; therefore they are not subject to acquisition/relocation; they are structurally bound to the communities that they serve.

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT NEEDS

With the rise of disinformation on social media platforms, disseminating verifiable information and journalistic integrity is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the need for trusted sources of factual content on full display. Canadians depend on the news to learn how to keep themselves and their families safe and informed, regardless of health, environmental or social emergencies. Unfortunately, misinformation is being widely spread throughout social media channels, putting a greater onus on traditional media to reach Canadians with factual information.

Disseminating Reliable, Local Information in All Communities 

As public and private broadcasters increase their focus on major urban centers and newspapers cease to operate at an alarming rate, regional and rural markets home to more than 30% of Canadians are in critical need of support.  Community radio is uniquely positioned to fill that void today and for the foreseeable future.  The disinformation fostered by social media and an increasing reliance on questionable web-based information sources can only be offset by investing in local news and information provided by community-based broadcasters.  

During the pandemic, campus and community radio stations have been at the forefront of providing public health information to Canadians. For example, stations continue to have phone interviews with key leaders such as chief medical officers, doctors, mayors and more to keep listeners informed. The stations allow listeners to hear directly from trusted sources of information to stay safe, educated and healthy.  During the pandemic, community radio saw an increase in listeners of as much as 16%.

Unfortunately, the pandemic caused many businesses to cut their advertising budgets and therefore cut campaigns short with local stations. Advertising continues to be the largest source of income for stations primarily run by volunteers due to their small budgets. The sudden revenue drop caused some stations to lay off staff and rely more on volunteers to continue serving communities. Without a supportive base of volunteers, many stations would likely have had to close their doors and stop broadcasting important information. The pandemic has also severely impacted the volunteer base at stations nationwide.  

As not-for-profit entities, any investments in community radio represent a direct investment in creating and promoting Canadian content.  As community radio is the training ground for future broadcasters, operational support for these stations will support the entire broadcasting sector.  So far, as many as 180 stations have functioned without government support for their operational needs.  This recommendation would represent a significant step forward and dramatically impact the health and viability of these broadcasters whose importance has only grown in recent years.  

We recommend that the Government of Canada, through the Community Radio Fund of Canada, provides long-term funding to support the operations of community radio stations which will serve to provide news and entertainment programming that keeps Canadians informed, supports homegrown talent and promotes Canadian content. (Called the Community Broadcasting Iniative)RECOMMENDATION #1

Fostering Community-Based Journalism 

Our sector commends the government for its Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) which supports creating journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada. Campus and campus radio stations have served these communities for decades, and the LJI  has had a substantial impact on local stations and our democracy. 

However, current funding provided through the LJI is insufficient to support the increasing need of the Canadian population adequately. Since 2008, more than 451 news operations have closed in 324 communities across Canada.  This year the LJI has allowed for the hiring of 38 journalists in underserved communities across Canada.

As we see local news and information eroded regularly, the void is being filled by increasingly unreliable sources of information and promoted by social media algorithms that have been demonstrated to hurt our society and democracy writ large.  The void in local news and information has resulted in a full third of US citizens who believe their election was stolen, horse medication flying off global shelves as an antidote to COVID because of one statement by an uninformed US president, and a total of about a dozen accounts are responsible for more than 80% of the vaccine disinformation available on social media.

Each of the groups that administer the LJI can dramatically expand the number of journalists hired with the appropriate resources. This expansion would have a material impact on communities and their ability to make informed decisions.

Additional funds need to be placed into three areas.  (1) Placement of (at least one) paid journalist in all communities deemed to be news deserts or in a state of news poverty.. (2) Centralized administrative support unit to govern and nurture independent content development (toward locally reflective news leads). (3) Enhanced resources toward promotion, marketing and technology for effective news distribution.

LJI-produced news is creative commons, and could easily be used as part of the national broadcasters’ news sources.  

With the three areas above addressed, the government will be better able to support community-based journalism and help to create more in-depth and up-to-date local news to keep communities informed. Canadians have relied on local outlets to learn about COVID-19  outbreaks and get updates from local public health officials. Increased funding in the three priority areas will help Canadians stay up-to-date with the latest information from their communities, not just the broad strokes nationally.

We propose that the government not only make the LJI program permanemt but augment the program. The funding envelope should be increased to $100M over the 5 years (as opposed to the $50M in the campaign promise) to support the programRECOMMENDATION #2

Advertising Inclusion 

The Government of Canada uses the services of a single Agency of Record (AOR) to develop media plans and purchase media space for government advertising. An AOR enables the government to get better value by leveraging the collective buying power of departments.  Centralizing these services also enables better integration, oversight, control and reporting.2 Therefore, when the Government of Canada launches different advertising campaigns, such as those seen during COVID-19 to keep Canadians informed, they use the AOR to complete the advertising purchases with different media outlets.  

Unfortunately, campus and community radio stations remain left out of advertising purchases by the government’s AOR, despite serving a sizable portion of the population in over 65 languages. Advertising tends, instead, to be delivered to large national media corporations and the CBC. We believe that minority communities deserve to be informed by their government, and those rural communities would also tend to benefit more from government messages if campus and community stations were included in the AOR’s plans. For many Canadians, major media outlets are not a source of information either because they don’t operate in their area or they don’t operate in their language. The Government of Canada should require its AOR to advertise with campus and community stations to reach all Canadians.  This will also help to bolster station operations and promote Canadian news and content.

The most recent study by the Association des radiodiffuseurs du Québec (ARCQ) shows that 78.4% of community radio listeners surveyed consider their station to be the best source for local information, far ahead of other media. A study carried out in 2022 demonstrated the correlation between advertising investment and the amount of news and current affairs produced by community radio stations. As media is run locally by volunteer citizens responsible for administration, community media investment encourages local purchasing, economic development, and democracy.  Data tied to listenership in English Canada is outlined in this 2022 study by Abacus Data.

Despite its imperfections and the need for a higher percentage, we firmly assert that the Quebec model, initiated by the government in 1995, which advocates for a minimum 4% investment in community media, holds the key to resolving our current challengesWe propose that the federal government swiftly embrace, customize and expand this model for adoption across Canada. This approach offers a straightforward solution, given its existing implementation in our nation, and it also lends crucial support to Canadian organizations focused on advancing our economy and production endeavours.

The federal government must take its leadership role in addressing tech giants and their ability to impact news and information nationwide and set an example by investing advertising dollars responsibly with a Canada-first approach. The Canadian government’s advertising purchases have been made from foreign companies for too long without considering the different communities in the country and forgetting the impact its actions can have. While no longer investing advertising dollars in Meta is a step in the right direction, there will be no long-term impact if there are no new targets or ways of doing things to change the way the government buys advertising. It’s increasingly important that the government of Canada share its information directly with listeners who cannot access it via social media. 

We recommend that the Government of Canada make advertising with campus and community radio stations mandatory for all advertising campaigns.RECOMENDATION #3

Other Information

Contact Us for more information or if you have questions