Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Print plant update

Quebecor's target for full operations at its new Toronto printing plant is August, says a posting on the Newspapers & Technology web site.

That means the days of the Toronto Sun's 100 full and part time pressroom employees and late-night press runs at 333 King Street East are numbered.

"We are in the startup phases of the first press and have tested newspapers," Mark Hall, general manager of the entity created by Quebecor to oversee the plant, says in the update.

"The target date to have all the presses operating is by August," says Hall. "We'll be producing directories, newspapers and lots of different products."

The newspapers are the Toronto Sun, London Free Press and 24 Hours.

The update confirms an earlier tip to TSF that Quebecor's two new printing plants in Toronto and Quebec will be printing large volumes of Yellow Pages telephone books.

"Both plants will also print telephone directories under terms of a long-term, $900 million agreement to produce directories for Yellow Pages Group Co.," the report says. "The sites will produce some 18 billion directory pages each year for more than 100 different directories in Ontario and Quebec."

And that, dear sports writers and sports fans, could affect Toronto Sun sports coverage.

If non-media products are a priority at the new plant, Sun deadlines could change. Earlier deadlines would eliminate final sports scores and coverage of evening sports events.

What the Newspapers & Technology update does not reflect is the pending turmoil for the 100 Toronto Sun pressroom employees and the London Free Press pressroom workers, some who have been on the job for decades.

And the report does not speak to the future of 333 King Street East, an address hundreds of Toronto Sun employees have called home since the summer of 1975.

There are a lot of special memories attached to that building, but that is being nostalgic and Quebecor clearly has little tolerance for sentiment.

Rumours have it once the new Toronto printing plant is fully operational, Quebecor will put up a For Sale sign at the once thriving six-floor tabloid.

It's strictly business, right?

The presses will be obsolete and the first floor is to be gutted and leased out to commercial ventures, leaving five floors for the ever-shrinking Sun staff.

The Summer of 2007 is shaping up to be another sad milestone in the rise and fall of the Toronto Sun.

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