The new Canadian Press, which transformed from a co-operative to a private company in 2010, is having labor problems these days. WIthout a contract since the end of 2011, the request means neither party can walk away from the table till April. The Canadian Media Guild represents 240 staffers; management’s argument is they’re losing money; likely the unions is focusing on the pension fund, which has been a bone of contention for some time. Stay tuned. This whole mess wouldn’t have happened if Sun Media and Post Media walked out of the co-operative several years ago, severely reducing the number of media using CP copy.
Canadian Press, arguably the most respected news organization in Canada, has new owners, essentially the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and La Presse, which now represents the new board for the venerable news co-operative. Nearly crippled when both the Sun chain and PostMedia withdrew from it and hobbled by a big pension debt, the restructuring essentially buys CP the time it needs to build a better business model. Postmedia has its own services as does the Sun chain (QMI: Quebecor Media) essentially recycling copy from within its chain. The old Southam Press also had a similar service, but was responsible enough to stay part of CP. If either the Sun or Postmedia claim to support and promote journalism, they could demonstrate it by supporting CP, and quality journalism.
Globe and Mail, Nov. 27 2010
News of a re-org at CP from both the Globe and CanWest suggests the venerable co-operative, supported by its members, is being bought out by its current three largest members: CTVglobemedia, Torstar and Gesca, which owns La Presse. Key to the deal is the influxion of cash, somewhere short of $10 million, federal approval to buy time to build up the pension plan, and approval from the union. CanWest reports the union isn’t happy, having already made concessions on the pension plan. This stems largely from the withdrawal a few years ago of CanWest’s group, as well as the withdrawal this month of the Sun chain. Both CanWest and the Sun started their own internal news sharing services, but neither has been able to sell it outside the company (and why would anyone want it, when they have CP? More brilliant marketing/management decisions by CanWest and the Sun, the chain being supported mainly by profits from Videotron in the Quebecor empire.
Report on Business, July 4/5 2010
Normally when a newspaper lays off, people just lose their jobs. In this case, Toronto Star is cutting 75 desk (editorial/layout) jobs, and contracting the service to Pagemasters North America, a unit of the Canadian Press news service. CP, which lost its biggest member, Canwest, a few years ago, has been branching out to other businesses to stay alive, including computerized layout services. At the end of the day, Torstar saves money and CP makes money. CP is an example of an “old” media adapting to current circumstances, as a lot of “old” media like radio do.
Bloomberg, Nov. 24 2009
Canadian Press has been busy figuring out how to expand its range of services beyond the distribution of stories to its paying members (a significant issue since Canwest left.) Today it announced centralized design, editing and production services to newspapers in Canada and the US, based on an Australian model that has had some success down under and in the UK. Their home page lists a range of other services they provide, such as photography, media monitoring and news release distribution. Still no news on a major effort to overhaul the news collective and make it more economically viable.
CP news release, August 13 2009
Canadian Press, which is desperately seeking a new business model/ownership after CanWest bailed out a few years ago, is facing another crisis, as Pierre Karl Peladeau gave notice that it will leave CP next year. The story, from CP, notes that Peladeau is imploring its staff that times are tough and people need to be mindful of costs, much as the Aspers did a while ago with their staff. I’ve always predicted that the Sun chain would die before the former Southam chain (which would prosper from the Sun’s collapse gaining monopoly rights in most media markets). The Sun would at least go under and die; CanWest would likely go bankrupt and seek protection under new management. Grim days ahead for newspaper readers.
Canadian Press/Canoe, March 12 2009
Hit by a triple whammy that includes the loss of CanWest as a member (and a big member at that), a shaky pension plan, and current members hit hard by the recession, Canadian Press announced today a restructuring that looks to outside capital to invest and inject some capital. (Something similar was done when Thomson bought Reuters a while back). The new plan, which would keep the editorial independence of CP, may also have some buyouts and layoffs of staff. Hope it works out; CP has long been an exemplar of quality journalism in Canada. If CanWest really wants to support journalism (it has a number of programs to do so) it might want to consider rejoining CP; given the number of their layoffs, they could use a newsgathering machine.
Globe and Mail, Feb. 7 2009