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'Imagine if the news wasn't there;' Toronto papers publish blank front pages

Last Updated Feb 4, 2021 at 11:46 am EDT

No it is not a misprint.

Some of Toronto’s daily newspapers published blank front pages on Thursday with only a small caption at the bottom of the page that read:

“Imagine if the news wasn’t there.”

The move is an effort by News Media Canada (NMC) to bring attention to a debate currently underway in Ottawa surrounding new media rules and regulations.

RELATED: Bell Media cuts hit 210 employees in Toronto, half from newsrooms, union says

Specifically, should Google and Facebook pay for the news content they aggregate on their search engines?

NMC says the tech giants currently control 80 per cent of the Canadian advertising marketspace and both platforms are fed by free content from traditional media.

Google has pushed back saying the newspapers get more readers and advertising interest by people searching for news.

The issue has been amplified in Australia where the federal government is working on legislation to force the company to pay for content. In response, Google has threatened to block access to its website.

NMC is a trade association for newspapers that represents over 800 papers across Canada.