It was 2010 when it really started to heat up. Quebecor Media started up new community weekly newspapers in Laval and the north shore, encroaching onto territory served by Transcontinental Media. A few months later, new papers in Joliette and Repentigny. It was clear at this point that Quebecor was starting a war.
Transcontinental responded with papers on Montreal’s south shore, in Sainte-Agathe, Mont-Tremblant and Abitibi.
Before then, both companies had dozens of community newspapers across Quebec. There was sort of a gentlemen’s agreement, or maybe just a fear of competition, so they didn’t encroach on each other’s territory. Until Quebecor decided it would expand into fast-growing areas and take on Transcon directly.
But on Thursday, that ended, with this matter-of-fact announcement from Quebecor that it is selling all 74 of its community weeklies to Transcontinental for $75 million. The announcement comes a day after it said it would cut 200 more jobs at Sun Media, including 50 in editorial positions.
Quebecor has 600 employees at these papers.
“The digital revolution has brought profound changes in local print media markets,” Quebecor CEO Robert Dépatie said in the press release. “Advertisers now have a multitude of platforms available to them that did not even exist little more than 10 years ago. We believe in the future of print media but we cannot ignore the new market realities”.
Quebecor talks about how the papers are in good hands, but the reality is that with many papers in overlapping markets (and many of those in fierce, unfriendly competition with each other), some mergers and shutdowns are inevitable.
The fact that this leaves Quebec with only one major community weekly publisher will mean it should get attention from the Competition Bureau. Sun Media will keep running the papers until it gets approval.
UPDATE (Dec. 19): Quebecor has also killed Le Sac Plus, its Publisac competitor. The shutdown will result in the loss of about 30 jobs, not including all the people who actually deliver it. Selling the regional weeklies prompted it to re-evaluate Le Sac Plus’s viability as a business, Quebecor said.
The list of papers TC Media is acquiring is below.
List of the 74 community papersacquired by TC Media
Those marked in red are markets where TC already owns a competing newspaper, based on my quick perusal of their list of community papers. There may be more in competing positions because they serve nearby/overlapping markets.
|Le Citoyen de la Vallée de l’Or
|Le Citoyen de l’Harricana
|Le Citoyen Rouyn Noranda
|Le Citoyen Abitibi Ouest
|Les Actualités d’Asbestos
|Le Plein Jour de Baie Comeau
|Le Nord Est
|Le Saint-Laurent Portage
|L’Information du Nord – Mont Tremblant
|L’Information du Nord – Ste-Agathe
|L’Information du Nord – Vallée de la rouge
|L’Écho de la lièvre
|Le Peuple Lotbinière
|Le Peuple Lévis
|Lévis / Montmagny
|Courrier du Sud
|Le Journal de Sherbrooke
|Le Journal de Chambly
|Le Soleil de Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
|Le Journal de St-Bruno
|Le Soleil du Samedi
|Le Soleil du Mercredi
|Le Journal St-François
|Les 2 Rives
|L’Écho de la Baie
|Le Sentinelle de Chibougamau
|Le Journal de St-Hubert
|The Gleaner – La Source
|L’Information d’Affaires Rive-Sud
|La Voix de la Matanie
|La Voix Gaspésienne
|Le Courier du Fleuve
|Le Journal des Pays d’en-Haut La Vallée
|Saint Sauveur / Sainte-Adèle
|Le Progrès Écho
|L’Écho du Nord
|L’Écho de St-Eustache
|L’Impact de Drummondville
|L’Écho de Victoriaville
|L’Écho de la Rive Nord
|L’Écho de Laval
|Le Journal de Magog
|Le Point du Lac St-Jean
|Le Journal de Joliette
|L’Écho de Repentigny
|L’Écho de Trois-Rivières
|L’Écho de Shawinigan
|L’Écho de St-Jean-sur-Richelieu