Few Canadians Are Paying Attention to Online News Act

More than two-in-five consumers of online news would try a different search engine if Bill C-18 restricts access to platforms.

Vancouver, BC [July 12, 2023] – Fewer than half of Canadians are monitoring the discussions related to Bill C-18, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 41% of Canadians are following news stories related to the Online News Act “very closely” or “moderately closely”.

Men (47%), Canadians aged 18-to-34 (50%) and British Columbians (also 50%) are more likely to be currently paying attention to Bill C-18.

The Online News Act seeks to compel Internet companies—such as Meta or Google—to negotiate deals and ultimately pay Canadian media companies for the content they preview and link to on their platforms.

At this point, just over two-in-five Canadians (43%) agree with the idea behind Bill C-18, while 35% disagree and 23% are undecided.

“Support for the Online News Act is highest among Liberal Party voters in the 2021 federal election (56%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Only 40% of Conservative Party voters and 38% of New Democratic Party (NDP) voters hold positive views on Bill C-18.”

More than three-in-five Canadians (63%) access news online (on a smartphone, computer, or tablet) at least four days a week. The proportions are lower for television news (51%), radio news (34%) and print (15%).

More than half of Canadians aged 55 and over (56%) watch television news every day, compared to 28% among those aged 35-to-54 and 19% among those aged 18-to-34.

About half of Canadians aged 35-to-54 (51%) and aged 55 and over (49%) are daily consumers of online news, along with 37% of those aged 18-to-34.

Canadians who access news online were asked about the way they seek content. More than a third say they access specific stories through a news aggregator (such as Google News) (42%), through a search engine, seeking information about a specific event (38%) or clicking on a link they saw on social media (35%) at least four days a week.

Fewer Canadians who access news online at least four days a week rely on three other methods: typing the URL of a specific website (28%), through newsletters they have subscribed to (21%) or through podcasts (15%)

Bill C-18 has the potential to restrict content that Canadians can find online on news aggregators. At least two-in-five Canadians who access news online say they would be likely to try a different search engine (43%) or access news on television (40%) if their ability to find content is limited.

Fewer Canadians who access news online are willing to try a different news aggregator (29%), bookmark news websites (28%), access news on the radio (also 28%) or access news on a print publication (18%).

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted on July 4 and July 5, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.


[e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca