New records show some of Canada’s biggest media companies have received millions from the federal government in untendered contracts predating the $595 million media bailout fund.

Among some of the sizable contracts for media monitoring – known as clipping – given out without tender are $195,840 to the National Observer, $2,005,847 to the Globe & Mail and $5,551,698 to Postmedia, according to a report from Blacklock’s Reporter.

Ironically, as Blacklock’s noted, at the same time the federal government was giving out millions to print papers, it dramatically cut government advertisements in the same papers. Only around 0.002 per cent of all federal advertisements in print newspapers in 2018.

One of the biggest critics of these clipping contracts is former five-term Liberal MP Joe Volpe, now the publisher of an Italian-language newspaper. Volpe has lambasted the contracts for being excessively generous and favouring a small group of established media companies.

Along with large government contracts, several media companies are already enjoying the benefits of the government’s $595 million bailout of the print media industry.

Earlier this month True North reported that Torstar, the parent company of the Toronto Star, is already supplementing its income with $115,000 a week in subsides from the media bailout.

Since the revelation of these contracts, royal assent was given to Bill C-97, which gives “qualified” companies a 25 per cent rebate on salaries of newsroom employees, and a tax credit for subscribers of these companies, giving approved media a clear advantage over other companies. 

With groups like left-wing labour union Unifor helping select what is considered “qualified” journalism, critics have argued that the media bailout will heavily affect coverage of the federal election this fall.