CanWest announced today that it would cancel its Monday edition for nine weeks over the summer, from July to early Sept. while saying they won’t do the same for the other CanWest dailies. Traditionally for all newspapers, Monday is the lightest day for ads (and for news), so it makes some sense economically. Summer is also the lightest time of the year for newspapers in terms of their size and amount of advertising. Typically it picks up in mid-August for some commodities (clothes, computers, books) for back to school, then ratchets up to a frenzy till Dec. 26, then collapses again for January/February. If CanWest hasn’t got its financial house in order by then, expect it to axe its Monday edition during Jan./Feb. 2010, unless it can swing a lot of Olympics ads.
CP/Canoe reports that NATO, apparently spurred on by the U.S. military model in Iraq, is trying to change the decentralized media policy the Canadian army has used in Kandahar with great success. Notwithstanding the political divisions and debate about the justice or appropriateness of our role in Afghanistan, nevertheless support for our Army is solid and is evidenced by the news coverage of the war, which has managed to be both objective in its coverage while admiring of the duty and discipline of our troops in its commentary. Canadian brass are apparently fighting this, with good reason; let’s hope they win this one.
The practice has been temporarily suspended under pressure from the Canadian military, which has tried unsuccessfully to have the overall policy reversed.
CP/Canoe, April 29 2009
In a bid to rescue U.S. newspapers, Senator Benjamin Cardin is proposing a bill that would allow newspapers to give themeselves the same status as non-profits. They would be taxed for educational purposes, not business purposes, which would put them on the same playing field as public broadcasting. They can cover anything, but not endorse any political candidate or idea. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible. It’s only one Senator, and needs more support, but at least it’s an idea to try to save the American newspaper, under significantly more pressure than its Canadian counterparts.
Reuters, April 28 2009
I’m not sure if it’s the best thing to do, to rip your regulator when you’re trying to get them to make a change in your favor, but CTV’s Ivan Fecan did just that yesterday, expressing five years of frustration at the specialty channels making great profits because of carriage fees, while the over the air nets struggle with an ever splintering market, resulting in layoffs and closures at all three English language nets.
“What are you trying to achieve? I’m at a loss to consider why you, Mr. Chairman, who have no skin in this game, why you would play this kind of risk with our business.”
CP, April 28 2009
Andrew Willis of the Globe and Mail (which provides far more objective coverage of CanWest’s financial crisis than CanWest does) notes that one option for the chain, which would be advantageous for consumers, and disastrous for the Aspers and current manager, is to have a vulture fund buy it for pennies on the dollar, take on new management, and rebuild the corporation until the recession ends and a more normal business model — depending on ad dollars for profits — returns.
But ultimately, CanWest will continue to print newspapers and crank out TV programs. But one group of owners who got the timing and the balance sheet wrong will give way to a new set of proprietors, who stand a good chance of getting the finances and the economic cycle right.
Globe and Mail, April 23 2009
While New Media tend to gloat over the financial troubles of MainStreamMedia, it turns out that they are just as vulnerable to the root cause of the current media crisis: seriously reduced advertising dollars. Slate.com notes that YouTube, one of the most heavily trafficked sites on the web (Susan Boyle is up to 50 million hits now), nevertheless is on track to lose $470 million this year (it takes a lot of servers, geeks, wires and overpaid executives to keep a site like YouTube going.) Meanwhile, Yahoo is laying off another 600 people (Globe and Mail), though its problems are complicated by serious competition from Google.
Slate.com, April 14 20009
Globe and Mail, April 22 2009
Well, the backlash has begun, with the Daily Beast being the first non partisan attack on President Obama’s love affair with the media (more likely the media’s love affair with the Obama’s, all represented by the idiot, massive coverage of the Obama’s new dog, a breed I’d never heard about before.) It all reminds me of Trudeaumania in 1968, when the entire Canadian media left its collective senses and gushed over PE Trudeau (they stopped gushing when he called in the troops in the 1970 Quebec Crisis.
Daily Beast/Tyler McMurchy, April 20 2009