Sun Media selling Quebec newspapers
MONTREAL—Sun Media is ending a battle in Quebec with media rival Transcontinental by agreeing to sell its 74 publications and related websites for $75 million as it continues to adjust to a loss of advertising revenue caused by the digital revolution.
The agreement announced yesterday has been approved by the boards of both companies but the subsidiary of Quebecor Media will continue to operate the papers until the transaction receives regulatory approval, including from the Competition Bureau.
“We believe in the future of print media but we cannot ignore the new market realities,” he noted.
Depatie said the transaction will ensure that the newspapers will stay in the hands of a Quebec company.
Not included in the deal are Quebec’s largest daily newspaper, Le Journal de Montreal, as well as Le Journal de Quebec, the 24 Heures free daily, and the QMI news agency.
The deal came a day after Sun Media announced it was laying off another 200 employees across its network, including 50 journalists outside Quebec.
Transcontinental CEO Francois Olivier said the transaction will “accelerate the implementation” of its strategy of strengthening its core assets and developing a local digital media offering for businesses and communities.
“There is still a future [in newspapers],” he said in an interview.
“These are very local publications,” he added. “We will probably go more towards unique content to get away from national news.”
If approved by regulators, the transaction would add about 600 new employees to the 1,000 who currently work for Transcontinental in local markets across the province.
Although Transcontinental would become the dominant community newspaper publisher by nearly doubling its weekly presence, Olivier said the acquisition doesn’t mean the end of some publications that already co-exist with regional weeklies.
“We’ll take the time to make a market-by-market study,” he noted.
“This is not a national matter,” Olivier stressed. “It is about doing what is good for each community.”
While some publications will be merged, it could result in an increase in the number of pages in some weeklies, he said.
He later told analysts that Transcontinental will be focused on producing “ultra local content” to compete with new web-based entrants.