Radio-Canada, which has for years had a secret agreement with Gesca (owner of La Presse, Le Soleil and Cyberpresse) as part of a complex, federalist conspiracy against Quebecor, has decided to terminate that agreement after negotiations on a renewal went sour, and is launching its own, competing daily newspaper.
An ad seeking experienced journalists to staff this newspaper appeared in La Presse recently (sources within La Presse say if they knew it was for the Radio-Canada newspaper, the ad would never have run), leading to a lot of speculation about who is behind it from people unfamiliar with the status of negotiations.
Some have even theorized that it's the work of Quebecor, which already owns two of Montreal's six daily newspapers.
Once the newspaper gets up and running, my sources within Radio-Canada say, columnists from that newspaper - and not La Presse - will be invited to be analysts on Radio-Canada TV and radio newscasts, and Radio-Canada will shift its huge advertising budget from La Presse to the new newspaper.
Needless to say, La Presse is pissed about this, though they can't say anything publicly because of the nature of the secret agreement. Radio-Canada's advertising money was a huge part of their budget, and the exposure their columnists get on Radio-Canada programs are the only reason anyone knows who they are. Mostly, they say, this split hurts the ultimate goal of both organizations: to crush Quebecor once and for all and end the Quebec sovereignist movement.
The secret agreement dates back to a not-so-secret agreement back in 2001, that reassured people the two newsrooms would remain separate. Radio-Canada said the agreement was terminated in 2003. But years later, after integration had made itself obvious, the work of brave journalists eventually uncovered the conspiracy through anonymous testimony, statistical analysis and by numbering paragraphs. Quebec's press council has rejected such complaints (it too is controlled by the Gesca-Radio-Canada cabal), but the evidence has kept mounting to the point where most Quebecers just accept it as fact.
It's unclear how La Presse will respond to this move. Some speculate that it may move to another broadcaster. Discussions are apparently already underway with V to have either a spot on Mario Dumont's news show or to produce a new TV series focused on current affairs, something the network badly needs. For radio, it appears the target will be 98.5, the Corus-owned station which airs Paul Arcand's morning show. Corus also needs an infusion of news, having just cut regional programming to replace it with Arcand's show. Bringing Gesca and its regional papers in the loop might mean bringing back some of that regional programming.
The Gesca-Radio-Canada entente is apparently to end June 30. The new newspaper (which so far doesn't have a name) is slated to begin production the next day.