Quebecor to pull ads from Facebook, Instagram after news access halted

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Telecom and media firm Quebecor said on Wednesday it will pull its ads from Facebook and Instagram following Meta Platforms’ decision to stop access to news on both social media platforms in Canada over a law requiring payments to local news publishers.

The Online News Act, or Bill C-18, was introduced in April last year and lays out rules to force companies such as Meta and Alphabet-owned Google to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content.

Google and Meta previously said they would block access to news articles in Canada if the legislation was passed. It was passed last month.

“Any move by Meta to circumvent Canadian law, block news for its users or discriminate against Canadian media content on its platforms, through its algorithms or otherwise, cannot be tolerated,” said a company news release.

Quebecor said it is pulling ads from Meta because of the company’s “categorical refusal” to enter into negotiations around compensating media companies.

It owns the telecommunications company Videotron as well as TVA Group, which includes the TVA television network, specialty channels and magazines. It also owns the Journal de Montreal and Journal de Quebec newspapers.

Quebecor has sometimes bought ads on Instagram and Facebook.

For example, the Facebook ads library linked to Quebecor’s TVA Nouvelles showed the brand had bought ads showcasing its 2022 election coverage, while Le Journal de Quebec recently ran an ad with Tourisme Isle-aux-Coudres.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how much it spent on those advertisements.

Cogeco says it will withdraw ads, too

Hours after Quebecor announced it would pull its Meta ads, Quebec Premier Fran├žois Legault said that “what we had hoped for is that these platforms pay the media companies” that develop news.

“Now, they decided to remove the content. Now, our responsibility is to continue these negotiations,” he said in Quebec City.

Cogeco, which owns and operates radio stations across Quebec, also said on Wednesday that it had decided to withdraw its advertising investments from Meta.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canada’s media industry has called for tighter regulation of internet giants to allow news businesses to recover financial losses suffered in the years that Facebook and Google gained a greater share of the online advertising market.

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