Media consolidation marches on
Quebecor Media is scooping up the 54 Osprey newspapers and tying its print products in for bundled online classified buys. Oh, and CanWest has sold its stake in Metro to Torstar.
Quebecor Media is taking over Osprey Media’s 20 daily and 34 non-daily newspapers, along with its shopping guides, magazines and other publications in a deal worth about $356 million. The Kingston-Whig Standard, The St. Catharines Standard and The Peterborough Examiner are prominent titles among the Osprey newspaper chain.
Simultaneously, Quebecor is getting into the online classifieds game by launching classifiedextra.ca (vitevitevite.ca in French) – which will be integrated into its Canoe Network – with a potential reach of 20 million people through its 200 daily and community newspapers. The online classifieds will operate in partnership with Sympatico.MSN.ca, which will use the classifiedextra.ca banner for all classified advertisements.
Quebecor Media’s Canoe network was quick to report that the Osprey deal makes Quebecor the ‘most important’ media brand in Canada. In the official announcement, Quebecor Media president/CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau said the purchase will ‘make our organization better equipped to meet the challenges facing our industry. With the combination of Sun Media and Osprey, Quebecor Media consolidates its role as a leader in the industry.’
Scott Stewart, an account director with Toronto-based Genesis Media, tells MiC the Quebecor-Osprey deal is ‘a far cry’ from making the ‘most important’ media brand in the country, but it does give Quebecor some reach into additional minor markets.
‘Sounds like Quebecor’s got their fingers in a lot of things,’ he adds. ‘It almost seems like Quebec companies are making a push into Ontario. In a lot of these markets, you’re looking at newspapers being one of the key opportunities to reach those areas. They are minor market dailies, but at the end of the day, I start wondering how stable they are with getting kicked around so much. A lot of these papers are pretty solid and run themselves, so hopefully it’s just business as usual and they don’t get Sun-d.’
Speculation in the Globe and Mail earlier this month included guesses that Torstar, the chain’s main rival, might buy Osprey and sell some papers to Transcontinental Media. The official announcement of the Quebecor Media deal states, in effect, that if a ‘superior proposal’ comes along, Osprey can trash the agreement.
Torstar did, however, buy out CanWest MediaWorks’ stake in Metro‘s Vancouver and Ottawa free dailies. Torstar already owned about 50% of the two papers. Now Torstar owns all five Metro papers in Canada in partnership with Metro International. CanWest MediaWorks Publications president Dennis Skulsky said the two free dailies were ‘no longer a strategic fit’ for the company’s publishing group.