Newspapers for sale!

CFCF's Paul Karwatsky reports outside the Gazette building (after signing autographs for some teenage girls who happened to pass by)

It wasn’t so much a question of whether, but when.

The hammer came down this morning, as Canwest Limited Partnership, the print and online side of the Canwest empire, joined the television arm in filing for creditor protection.

I can’t really tell you more than has been published by the Globe and Mail (UPDATE: The Globe has more in its Saturday issue), the Toronto StarBBC, ABC (Associated Press)Bloomberg, Canadian Press, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, QMI, UPI, CBCCTV, CTV Montreal, Le Devoir, Rue Frontenacthe Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Post or the Canwest press release.

The Star also has a copy of CEO Leonard Asper’s memo to employees.

The gist of it is that the newspaper division (including the National Post, though it is not under this creditor protection filing) is up for sale, with the banks getting the ball rolling setting a floor bid. Unlike recent small-market TV station sales that were for a nominal amount, the newspaper chain is expected to fetch decent cash because most of the newspapers are still profitable.

The only question is who has a billion dollars to spare to scoop up an entire newspaper chain (because of how dependent they are on each other for content and services, Canwest is hoping to sell them off as a unit).

In the meantime, while about 50 former employees under salary continuance are getting screwed (none of these people are former Gazette employees), pensions, salaries and expenses continue as normal through a $25-million debtor-in-protection financing. This means employees (including me) still get paid as normal, freelancers still get their invoices processed, and suppliers still get paid for continuing operations. (UPDATE: Some freelancers are being affected by this filing, I’m now told, for bills between mid-December and the filing of Jan. 8.)

In Saturday’s paper, Gazette published Alan Allnutt makes that clear: Operations continue as normal.

Wish I had more juicy details, but they don’t trust me with that kind of information (would you?).

So instead, I offer photos of journalists who reported on the move, hours after the fact, from in front of the Gazette’s editorial offices on Ste. Catherine St. (Photos link to the video reports online)

CBMT's Kai Nagata uses a Gazette as a prop while reporting live during the 6pm newscast

Radio-Canada's Louis-Philippe Ouimet does a taped report from across the street, to provide a better background

9 thoughts on “Newspapers for sale!

  1. jay

    well when the bankruptcy documents are made public then it gets interesting, all the places ive worked that have gone under had to publish those docs to the employees as we were creditors (vacation pays) there is a lot of juicy info in those papers!

  2. David Pinto

    Surely I am not the only person to notice that the letters CCAA – short for Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act –can be rearranged to spell a rather rude English scatological term which rather hits the spot!

  3. Dominique

    Actually freelancers with outstanding invoices as of Jan 8th have had payment frozen. I’m out $900. Please update post.

  4. Dominique

    Hi Fagstein,

    My invoice was filed October 14th and still wasn’t paid by January 8th when the bankruptcy protection was filed. So because it was an outstanding invoice, it’s now frozen. I know of at least two other freelancers who are similarly affected and are owed more money than I am. To say the paper’s operations are continuing normally when regular contributors aren’t being paid is a lie.

  5. Pingback: Congratulations, you’re an unsecured Canwest creditor – Fagstein

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