Sun Media whacks 400 more jobs

Will the last one left please turn out the lights? You kind of wonder how much longer the Sun newspaper chain will last, or how long Quebecor shareholders tell Pierre Karl Peladeau to stop with expensive, political moneylosers like Sun TV.

Nov. 29 2011, The Globe and Mail

- The Globe and Mail

Media conglomerate Quebecor Inc. is eliminating 400 jobs from its far-flung Sun Media division, Canada’s biggest newspaper publisher with dailies and weeklies across the country, a union official said Monday.

It was on Twitter where talk first emerged that the Montreal-based multimedia giant would be cutting at Sun Media, which has dozens of papers, free commuter publications and numerous weeklies in Ontario, Quebec and other provinces.

Paul Morse – president of the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, which represents workers at the Toronto Sun as well as several other Quebecor newspapers – said the cuts follow a round of buyouts at the Toronto Sun last week.

Mr. Morse said about 400 jobs are on the block, roughly half of which are to be eliminated through buyouts. About 100 employees will be laid off and another 100 or so positions will be done away with through attrition, he added.

Quebecor’s executive suite was confirming nothing, however.

“I do not wish to make any comment at the moment,” Serge Sasseville, Quebecor vice-president of corporate and institutional affairs, said in an e-mail.

One Twitter user said 20 employees had lost their jobs at the Calgary Sun newspaper, with more cuts coming in rural Alberta.

An anonymous poster on a blog for employees and former employees of the Sun chain, Toronto Sun Family, said there had been 27 layoffs in Edmonton, though the poster said they were not certain about the location.

Like other media companies, Quebecor has been squeezed by the slowing economy, which has hurt advertising revenues and eroded the company’s profits.

In its most recent quarter, the Montreal multimedia giant controlled by the Peladeau family reported a near 69 per cent drop in earnings. With a big chunk of its assets in Ontario and Quebec, the company has been particularly vulnerable to the slowdown in the manufacturing economy of central Canada.

“There have been several layoffs at the Toronto Sun, where they are shipping pre-press work offshore to India,” Mr. Morse said. A number of non-union jobs at the Toronto Sun have also been cut, he added.

The Quebecor media conglomerate owns Sun papers in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa, as well as numerous other properties including the London Free Press and Kingston Whig-Standard. It launched the Sun News 24-hour news channel last year.

In Ontario, where Quebecor bought the former Osprey chain of small papers in 2007, Sun Media owns dailies from Barrie and Peterborough to Sudbury, Welland and Woodstock Sun Media also runs free commuter dailies from Montreal to Vancouver and French-language papers Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec, along with websites and numerous other businesses.

The Sun chain’s last big round of layoffs came just before Christmas in 2008, with 600 jobs cut.

Pierre Karl Peladeau’s Quebecor Inc. is a holding company with more than 15,700 employees and a nearly 55 per cent stake in Quebecor Media Inc.

Quebecor media owns Sun Media, French-language broadcaster TVA Group Inc. , the Vidéotron cable TV operator in Quebec, the Canoe website and other properties.

Earlier this month, Quebecor reported a profit attributable to shareholders of $26.1-million, or 40 cents per diluted share, on $1.01-billion in revenue, down from $83-million, or $1.28 per diluted share, a year ago on $969.9-million in revenue.

However despite the overall gain in revenue, news media revenue at Quebecor slipped slightly to $235.2-million in the quarter, down from $238.5-million a year ago.

State of media becomes campaign issue

Well, glad someone is raising the issue about corporate conglomerance, shrinking newsrooms and whither CBC on the federal election campaign trail, even if it is only Elizabeth May of the unelected (as yet) Green Party. A nice screed, fitting in nicely with her exclusion from the leader’s debate. However, she’s calling for hundreds of millions in new funding for CBC. I’d rather see a nation-wide review of the role and relevance of CBC, particularly television, in the 500 channel universe. I’d also like to see some discussion of the role and relevance of the 27-some platforms the CBC (radio, web, tv, international, French/English/north etc.)

NorthumberlandReview.ca, April 4 2011

Sun “expands” by firing three reporters

For al the blah blah coming out about a Fox North right wing television channel that will be foisted onto us as part of a basic  cable package, the Sun quietly let go three experienced reporters from Ottawa. The ongoing CanWest soap opera has overshadowed the fact that the Sun chain is far more vulnerable, essentially being propped up by Videotron cable. I wonder how long Quebecor shareholders are going to support a money losing newspaper chain as part of the company.

J-Source, June 18 2010

Science Media Centre of Canada established

Here’s an idea whose time might have come. Science reporters have been declining generally, particularly as people like the Aspers laid off Southam science beat reporters to centralize everthing in Winnipeg. Reporters without a science background, which is most of them, have to fight their way through incomprehensible scientific data (e.g. Kyoto, Copenhagen) without any support. Here’s a link to their site, and an announcement about their new CEO.

“The Centre will be able to help harassed reporters come up with respected experts and reliable information faster, this making their jobs a little easier,” she said.

Science Media Centre of Canada

Marketwire, Dec. 8 2009

State of the media: bleakest report yet

The Project for Excellence in Journalism (US) put out its sixth — and admittedly  bleakest — report today. Newspapers in particular are suffering from the double whammy of technology change and a crippling economic recession (ad rates actually fell last year despite it being an election year, typically a good time for advertisers.) Oddly, the report notes that giants like the New York Times have bigger audiences than ever, if you add 0n-line.  Two links,  summary story from AP, and the complete document itself.

“This is not an industry that is dying,” Rosenstiel said. “This is an industry that is in disorientation.”

AP/Canoe, March 16 2009

Project for Excellence in Journalism, March 16 2009

Wage cuts latest tactic in media meltdown

Irish TV and radio took a wage cut recently, as has the Sacramento Bee (6 %). Today, John Doyle of the Globe suggests the same for the CBC. Wonder if he’s as enthusiastic about taking a cut at the Globe, which is suffering along with all other media these days.

Associated Press, March 6 2009

Feds offer no help to besieged media

Reuters notes that the federal government will not be lifting its restrictions on foreign ownership of Canadian media, in the context of legislation being put forward to ease foreign ownership on airlines and uranium.  When pressed, Finance Minister James Flaherty said:

the federal government did not “plan to get into the business of subsidizing media”

Reuters, March 4 2009

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