Canada to End Media Lockups for Some Statistics in July

Statistics Canada said it will end the practice of giving news media an early look at some economic data on July 1.

Bloomberg
First Published1 Jun 2024
Canada to End Media Lockups for Some Statistics in July
Canada to End Media Lockups for Some Statistics in July

(Bloomberg) -- Statistics Canada said it will end the practice of giving news media an early look at some economic data on July 1.

So-called media lockups will continue for inflation, the labor force survey, gross domestic product, retail sales and international trade, a spokesman for the agency told Bloomberg on Friday. 

Other data releases, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, building permits, international securities transactions and industrial product prices, will no longer be provided to reporters for early access. 

All economic data will continue to be released publicly at 8:30 a.m. Ottawa time. 

Before the decision, Statistics Canada was one of few central statistics agencies in advanced countries to comprehensively offer early access to data for reporting purposes. Globally, the practice is becoming increasingly less common.

In 2020 the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics permanently ended media lockups for market-moving economic data. 

“It would be unfortunate to end media lockups for Canadian economic releases,” Fred Demers, investment strategist at BMO Asset Management, said in an email. 

It makes a big difference for anyone in the business of quickly interpreting data releases to be able to simply read headlines as the statistics are released, he said.

“I suspect market volatility around data releases could increase as it will take a bit longer for market watchers and participants to reach a conclusion about the data.”

Read More: What’s a ‘Lockup’ and Why It Matters for Markets: QuickTake

Lockups are designed to give journalists time to analyze and digest economic data before wider distribution. Media may also question analysts in the room.

The agency’s spokesman described the new process as a “trial” and said it would receive feedback from media outlets later in the year. Analysts will be made available to journalists through a virtual briefing.

“It’s troubling,” Sean Holman, a University of Victoria journalism professor with expertise in freedom of information, said in an interview. 

Providing journalists with access to embargoed information gives them an opportunity to absorb that information and do a better job of reporting on it, he said. 

“I can’t think that a decision that makes it more difficult for the news media to provide accurate, independent information is good for democracy.”

The move has the potential to delay release times and put burdens on the agency’s website, as stakeholders, algorithmic traders and the general public rush to scrape or pull data from the posted releases. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada temporarily suspended all media lockups, but restarted them in 2022. 

--With assistance from Scott Lanman, Michael Denicola and Vincent Del Giudice.

(Adds comments from journalism professor.)

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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