By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — An advocacy group representing print and digital news media in Canada is criticizing plans by Canada Post to expand its commercial flyer distribution service.
News Media Canada says Canada Post’s move to distribute packaged commercial flyers would “seriously harm” a primary revenue source for most newspapers.
The Canada Post strategy relies on an “unfair advantage,” namely the ability to access mail boxes in apartments and condos, the group says.
In a statement released Thursday, News Media Canada asks the government to restrict Canada Post from using a tool given to them by the government to directly compete with local newspapers.
Newspapers have traditionally been the main delivery source for flyers that advertise products for local businesses, and the practice is a major revenue source for many media outlets.
Canada Post responded Thursday in an emailed statement, saying it competes fairly to provide value to Canadian businesses and consumers. It said it had a “mandate to serve all Canadians while remaining financially self-sufficient.”
Local businesses have several options for flyer delivery, and newspapers continue to deliver the “vast majority” of flyers, the Crown corporation noted. It also said that while it does have exclusive access to mailboxes, other distributors can gain permission to access apartment buildings through landlords and building managers.
But the move runs counter to the federal government’s recent efforts to provide support to the news media, which has struggled in recent years, said John Hinds, head of News Media Canada.
“At a time when our industry is knee-deep in transition, this deliberate undercutting of one of newspapers’ foundational revenue pillars by a federal Crown Corporation is very troubling,” Hinds said in the statement.
The Liberal government has promised almost $600 million in tax credits and incentives for some media organizations over the next five years.
Outlets that meet certain qualifications will receive a 25 per cent tax credit on salaries for some newsroom employees, while media organizations will also be able to apply for charity-like status.