Friday, 7 August 2009

Delivery deal

Yesterday's announcement that Quebecor and Canwest have agreed to deliver competing newspapers takes us back to the 1950s.

Way back when newspaper carriers in Toronto were allowed to deliver both the Toronto Star and Toronto Telegram.

They were both afternoon newspapers and all was harmony until the Toronto Star gave carriers notice they could no longer deliver both papers.

It was the Star or the Tely. Most carriers at the 22 Barton Street agency opted for the Star.

The Star always showed an interest in what carriers were thinking.

During Hurricane Hazel in 1954 carriers were given the option to deliver, or not deliver. We opted to deliver and one customer - there is always one - complained about her paper being wet.

In the 1950s, the Star also asked carriers if they would deliver papers on Sundays if the Star published a Sunday paper. We're not sure of the results of that survey, but a Sunday Star was put on hold for 20 years.

Details of yesterday's Quebecor/Canwest agreement weren't released, so we don't know if it is strictly printing plant to distributor deliveries in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary, or home deliveries as well.

And it is not known how many Quebecor distribution jobs will be lost.

But it certainly does appear to be an opening for Quebecor to take control of Canwest newspaper assets down the road.

Last, but not least, net income for the not-so-struggling Quebecor Media were up 33.6% in the second quarter ending June 30.

Shareholders are content.

Can we say the same for its newspaper employees?


  1. Absolutely not....this deal just makes a lot of us more worried.

  2. Read the Canadian Press story on this and you will see that Quebecor is making big revenue increases on its cable but its newspaper assets continue to plummet. PKP may not be a nice guy but he is making big money for his shareholders by holding cable and now wireless assets. The dead tree end of his business is slowly, and sadly, dwindling away.

  3. I'm so pleased that they were able to keep afloat. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about my unemployment.

  4. PKP is making more money. That's a relief. I guess it's easier to make money when you whack hundreds of jobs, close offices and run skeleton crews in newspapers across the country.
    Maybe the big boss can use his increase in net income to buy an expansion NHL team for Quebec City? One can only sarcastically hope...

  5. Chief among them is the recessionary impact on revenue and the loss of readers to the Internet.

    Well whose fault is that? Every newspaper is to blame for putting everything on the Internet for free. That's a major part of why they're all in the mess today.

    If they can collaborate on delivery, why not sit down and agree to start charging again to read the items online? If readers what the info they'll pay.

  6. Charging people money to read things online will only decrease the number of people that read your content online.

    It doesn't mean those people will start buying your newspaper. They'll just find other free online news sources.

    The newspaper is becoming a fringe medium like theatre is in the world of arts. It appeals to an ever-shrinking demographic.

    The Internet is becoming the dominant medium for news, entertainment and frankly, most information. (Case in point - You're all reading this comment online.) Targeting the news sites with fees in an attempt to increase newspaper sales is only going to alienate younger and future audiences.

    I'm not saying that this new distribution pseudo-merger isn't worrisome for both Sun Media and Canwest employees.

    But charging for online content will only reduce the news organizations' audiences even further and would likely lead to more cutbacks down the road.

  7. Aug. 7 at 2:10 p.m. may have a point. But to sit down and make an agreement among corporations may constitute collusion. It may require intervention by the Department of Justice or a deal with with department to ensure no infraction of the Combines Act. The same applies to the U.S. with its anti-trust legislation.

    Rob Lamberti
    Chair Toronto Sun Unit
    CEP Local 87-M

  8. How do the oil companies get around that collusion thing? And why not take sports bets? Papers already have one foot in the pool by posting odds and point spreads. They might as well go all-in.

  9. Sure in the bigger cities like Toronto, people can get other content online. But in the smaller markets, where one paper is up against TV, radio, then charge for that online content. That newspaper can deliver more LOCAL news than the other sources combined in their market.

    Which big paper in Canada first started letting content go for free? Because they deserve a good ass kicking for contributing to the mess papers are in across the country.

    If there's anyone involved in advertising that surfs this site, I'd love for them to post some numbers about online advertising and whether their particular paper is reaping the online revenue.

  10. My paper, an excellent one, makes less than 2 per cent of its revenue from online, but spends a mint in staff and time producing it. They figure they can increase this, but have yet to figure out how. I hope they find out soon.

  11. Quote: "Which big paper in Canada first started letting content go for free? Because they deserve a good ass kicking for contributing to the mess papers are in across the country."

    One guess. 1996. c-a-n-o----