Power Corp. all-in with La Presse

The company has sold six regional dailies to a new group led by former Liberal MP Martin Cauchon, but will continue to represent national advertising sales.

Power Corp. subsidiary Gesca has narrowed its focus to its daily La Presse and its successful tablet product La Presse+, selling six regional papers to a group formed by former Liberal MP Martin Cauchon.

Cauchon’s new company, Groupe Capitals Medias, is acquiring the papers and website of Le Soleil in Quebec City, Le Nouvelliste in Trois-Rivieres, Le Droit in Ottawa-Gatineau, La Tribune in Sherbrooke, Le Quotidien in and La Voix de l’Est in Granby. According to 2013 NADBank data posted on the La Presse publicity website, the regional papers had 667,000 combined readers.

Simon Jennings, president of La Presse sales group, said in a note to clients yesterday that the decision to divest the papers was made to allow the company to focus on developing a digital strategy and commercializing the La Presse+ platform.

La Presse+ is pulling in readership of 438,372 per week, assuming 1.5 readers per tablet, according to stats for the week of Jan. 5 to 11 released by third-party app measurement company Localytics, an increase of more than 130,000 compared with the same week in 2014.

“The transaction includes contractual agreements whereby national advertising sales representation by La Presse is guaranteed,” Simon Jennings, president of La Presse sales group, said in the note. “This will not result in any change to advertising operations for clients or agencies.”

“There are no changes to the products we represent or to our existing agreements,” he added. “The La Presse group sales representation office and its teams of reps for the regional dailies remain the same.”

Cauchon said in a statement that regional news and info will be a priority for the papers, which Dominique Verdon, VP group director at media agency Carat, says is good news for advertisers.

“Having more focus on local and regional news is definitely a good thing,” he says. “Basically to be more relevant to people, that will help the paper and advertisers as well.”

He adds that the new ownership group would be wise to improve the digital presence of the regional publications.

The sale further alters the landscape for community newspapers in Quebec. In late 2013, TC Media purchased the weekly community newspapers from Quebecor’s Sun Media for $75 million. The Competition Bureau later ruled that Transcontinental needed to sell 34 of the titles to maintain competition in the province.