***FLASH *** Sun Media cuts 600 positions

Media giant blames dwindling economy and changing readership trends for latest move.

Toronto-based Sun Media announced today it will reduce its workforce by the equivalent of 600 full-time positions due to dwindling print ad revenues. The layoffs, which represent 10% of the company’s staff, will be implemented by year end in Western Canada, Ontario and Quebec, and are expected to result in restructuring costs of about $14 million.

A release issued by the company states that the move is in response to major changes affecting the print media industry worldwide, driven by the growing availability of free access to media, changing readership habits as audiences move to the Internet and the advent of real-time information and digital transferability. The economic slowdown, rising costs and falling advertising revenues were also factors in the decision.

‘The speed at which the current economic environment is deteriorating forces us to make difficult decisions at this time of the year,’ says Pierre Karl Peladeau, president and CEO of Quebecor. ‘The news industry is being revolutionized and we have to adapt if we want to remain an industry leader. We need to build a presence and build our brand in the digital universe and we need to do it as quickly as possible. We have to let customers get the information they want on the platform of their choice.’

Sun Media Corporation is a member of the Quebecor family of companies. It owns 43 paid-circulation and free dailies in Canada’s key urban markets and more than 200 community newspapers, shopping guides and other specialty publications. Sun Media’s English- and French-language papers reach 10.5 million readers every week.