This one hit like a ton of bricks: Gesca, the media company owned by Power Corporation, is selling six of its seven newspapers to Groupe Capitales Médias, a new company (literally formed on Monday and registered yesterday) owned by Martin Cauchon, former Liberal Party MP for Outremont.
The sold newspapers are:
- Le Soleil in Quebec City
- Le Droit in Ottawa
- Le Nouvelliste in Trois-Rivières
- La Tribune in Sherbrooke
- La Voix de l’est in Granby
- Le Quotidien in Saguenay
The purchase price wasn’t disclosed. The new owner says current management at those papers will remain in place, including Claude Gagnon, who is president of the new company and remains in charge of the regional papers.
Gesca, for its part, says it wants to focus on La Presse+ and international sales of the platform it spent $40 million to develop. It never brought the other newspapers into this system, which many people found curious. Now I guess we know why. (Negotiations took several months — La Presse says it was a year — and other parties were interested in a purchase.)
UPDATE: Some details from InfoPresse: La Presse will continue selling national ads for the regional papers, and they will continue sharing copy. Plus La Presse+ and other technology will be shared with the regional papers, according to publisher Guy Crevier.
- Quebec’s journalists federation welcomes the move as a way to free these papers from “Montrealization”.
- Pierre Duhamel points out that Cauchon is a friend of the Desmarais family and wonders if they weren’t involved in arranging the deal.
- The Journal de Québec gets reaction from various parties, including journalists at the affected papers.
Famille Desmarais s'est trouvée un "faux-nez" pour la fermeture des quotidiens Gesca. La question qui tue : Quand ? http://t.co/xv2OJqGF0q
— Pierre Karl Péladeau (@PKP_Qc) March 18, 2015
UPDATE: The new owners are in negotiations with the union, and it doesn’t look good.
The deal makes 100% perfect sense – unless your wagon is attached to the horse of old school newspapers.
Gesca has figured out a path out of the woods. With 190,000 views on a Sunday, their digital edition / online paper / whatever you call it is quickly surpassing the print media side for viewership and potentially income. It also has some truly amazing which the print edition never had:
There is no real borders or blockages in the online world. You don’t need a brand of newspaper printed in every region anymore. You can do almost all of the same thing from a single source online product, reach all of those people, be just as “local” as you want to be, and not have to worry about printing and distributing dead tree editions to people.
Moreover, for a company that WANTS to specifically do dead tree editions for a local market, breaking away from the national mother ship is a good way to return to their roots and to try to connect more directly with their local communities.
LaPresse (and +) without the regional papers is a stronger company. The regional papers without the LaPresse main office are likely also better positioned to last longer and be more nimble in their own markets. Net result is a win for both sides. A deal like this has probably extended the life span of the regional papers another 10 + years done right.
There has never been a clearer indication that print newspapers are going away than this. It’s a matter of time, but it’s as inevitable as the demise of the rotary dial telephone.
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