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Quebec minister prepares aid plan for 'media crisis'

Quebec Culture and Communication Minister Mathieu Lacombe responds to the Opposition during question period, Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot Quebec Culture and Communication Minister Mathieu Lacombe responds to the Opposition during question period, Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
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As the media crisis continues to grow, Quebec is likely to prepare a "temporary media assistance plan" with Ottawa.

During a press scrum at the national assembly on Tuesday, Minister for Culture and Communications Mathieu Lacombe was asked about a document he was carrying "intended for ministerial authorities," which read: "Make a proposal for a temporary media assistance plan."

"You have good eyesight; I'm going to hide this," laughed the minister, visibly embarrassed that a journalist had been able to read his document.

"This is work we are doing with the federal government. (...) It's not necessarily additional aid, but what I'm telling you is that we need to review the way we help the media because it's very concentrated on (the print media)," he added, without giving any further details of his plan.

The minister said that his government was already funding the print media very well and was calling on Ottawa to provide more assistance to the TV and radio media under its authority.

"This is not a hiding place; we need to coordinate better with Ottawa because, at the moment, there is a gap," he said.

Lacombe is due to meet his federal counterpart Pascale St-Onge in mid-December.

On Monday, CBC/Radio-Canada announced that it was cutting 10 per cent of its workforce, or 800 jobs.

With the end of the paper newspaper scheduled for the end of the year, 125 workers at the Coops de l'information (which includes Le Soleil, Le Quotidien, Le Droit, Le Nouvelliste, La Tribune and La Voix de l'Est) have taken advantage of a voluntary departure programme.

At the beginning of November, Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau announced that the company would be eliminating 547 positions.

Premier François Legault met Péladeau on Tuesday.

"We discussed the future of the media, the future of film and television production and various development projects." wrote the premier on the social network X.

Last week, Ottawa signed a $100 million agreement with Google to help Canadian media.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 5, 2023. 

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