Postmedia sells Victoria Times Colonist, weeklies

Well, the company that defines itself as “primarily in the large, urban newspaper business” (CEO Paul Godfrey), has sold the Victoria Times Colonist, a large urban newspaper, to Glacier Media, along with 20 community newspapers. The communities are a bit of an odd sale; they actually are profitable, money machines. Godfrey says he wants to pay down debt; surely one of the best ways to do that is keep your profitable enterprises and use them to pay down debt. And another way is to sell/close your unprofitable enterprises, like the National Post. The Times Colonist is another matter. The paper was added to the sale “following failed attempts to have the paper’s union agree to cost-cutting measures.” Might be tough times ahead for the union, though given it is a monopoly newspaper, the TC should be a money-maker anyway for Glacier. Maybe this is a harbinger of things to come; the Postmedia selling off its profitable bits until it’s left with the National Post, which then has to shut down because there is nobody left to subsidize it. Just hoping…

NADbank: newspaper circulation up for all dailies

The Globe reported yesterday (B2) that it’s readership was up significantly. After piercing through the self-congratulatory rhetoric, it turns out every major daily, even the lowly Suns, are up, as well as the National Post. The numbers:

Average weekday readership grew by 10.8 per cent to 709,000 in seven largest English language markets

National Post showed a 27.4 per cent increase to 361,500

On line readership at Globe (102. per cent, combined print and net) and Post (8 per cent) increased.

In vital Toronto market, Star inched ahead 0.3 per cent, Sun by 5.4 per cent, Globe by 16.9 per cent and Post 51.4 per cent! (is it possible that PostMedia’s strategy is working?) Final comment: Star is most boring newspaper in Canada; suits its suburban readers nicely. The new Globe is actually a great improvement; forget about keeping up with net and electronic media; concentrate more on opinion, backgrounders and features.

NY Times online model working; traditional ads falling

Reuters reports that the New York Times, which charges for access to its website beyond 20 hits a month is working. It has 100,000 new subscribers since it launched last month and is estimated to bring in annual revenues, desperately needed, of $26 million. Good thing too; its traditional ad revenue declined 7.5 per cent for a revenue drop of 4.4 per cent. So far, business newspapers like the Wall Street Journal or high quality broadsheet like the Times of London seem to be the only types of newspapers making money off web subscriptions. Wonder when the Globe and Mail will go to this model; as for PostMedia, it seems stuck in 1998 talking about convergence and web first, pushing people to its free website.

Sorry, no link until I figure out how I can cut and paste on the new “improved” Mozilla browser. Meanwhile, a Google News search New York Times gains online subscribers while print ads fall, will get you there. April 23 2011

Latest NADbank: Canadian daily newspaper use steady, some slight increases

Why is this important? Because it contrasts with the US reality of steadily declining readership, some dailies shuttered, others cutting back days of the week they come out. So the Globe and Star dominate Toronto, the “National” Post (which doesn’t distribute in six of ten provinces) hasn’t declined and is still losing money. Details below:

NADbank, March 30 2011

Back to the future: US newspaper ad revenues at 1962 level

Just to verify what everyone knows, US newspaper advertising is in steady decline, reaching, in inflation-adjusted levels, the same amount as in 1962. That year, of course, the big tech news was that color TV was coming, even though the sets might costs as much as a good used car. The Newspaper Association of America came up with these numbers, noting that advertising, particularly want ads, were migrating to the much cheaper web. I doubt it would be different in Canada. The Sun chain is dying, propped up by Quebecor, and Postmedia today announced it is listed on the TSX, but has not offered its IPO, most likely on the grounds that no sensible investor would buy into this company unless it killed the money-sicking National Post first. Globe and Toronto Star continue to do well, particularly the Globe which in its latest incarnation is focused much more heavily on backgrounders and analysis than on breaking news, which it can’t compete with.

CTV, March 16 2011

New Newspaper association in Canada

The dailies and the weeklies have finally united to form one newspaper association: Newspapers Canada. It’s about time newspapers started to figure out how to work together to survive the vicious media market in Canada. And they have a great new website, http://www.newspaperscanada.ca that I think I’m going to link to.

Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 4 2011

Good news for Canadian newspapers

Marketing Magazine takes a look at recent circulation figures, and concludes that the great decline has at least stopped; most big city papers are holding steady, as we slowly come out of the Great Recession. Le Droit is down, but the rest are doing well. The Toronto Star, possibly the most boring newspaper on the planet, continues to lead, for inscrutable reasons, PostMedia is holding well, but the Sun chain lags every market. How long will it last, and will a right wing  nut television channel save them?

Marking Magazine, via J-Source, Oct. 6 2010

Press councils on the decline, maybe on the verge

Press councils are voluntary groups supported by newspapers, which allow citizens to complain about coverage and if their view is upheld, get written retractions pointing out the flaws of the original story. Great idea, but if you don’t have Postmedia, the Sun chain and now Quebecor involved, don’t really count for much. They’ve never been extensively used, but at least they were there as an option to complain about newspaper coverage. If they’re gone, that’s one option less for the citizen to press for accurate coverage.

J-source, July 20 2010

Gazoo drops Sunday edition

The Montreal Gazette (Gazoo to Aislin) announced it’s dropping its Sunday edition in August. Is this the first great step of the day old PostMedia, cutting back (again.) With the National Post dropping its Monday edition this summer, for the second year in a row, is this the dawning of the Tuesday to Saturday newspaper (which some US papers have done, sometimes going to three or four “dailies” a week.

CBC, July 16 2010

OECD study on newspapers: good news, bad news

The National Post cherry-picked one quote from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Economic Development (OECD)¬† to put a positive spin on the future of newspapers: “Newspapers ‘here to stay’: OECD study”, but the facts in the study are decidedly more mixed. Canadian newspaper revenue fell 17 per cent between 2007 and 2009 (the US decline was even more dramatic: 30 per cent decline), the developing world is showing the most growth (good if you live in Uganda) and in some OECD countries (unnamed, but likely western European) the situation is “alarming.” The upside is that other revenue streams are starting to show up; the New York Times in my opinion reflects this best: trying to charge for Internet access at the beginning, reversing that in the face of web culture that everything is free, now going back to a subscriber based system next year as web culture matures and more users recognize they are paying for stuff on the and popular web sites like Wikipedia and Youtube have revenue issues that may result in their demise. Worth a look, but don’t be fooled by newspaper headlines.

National Post, June 15 2010