So Metro goes to the STM, 24 Heures goes to the AMT

First edition of La Page AMT, August 26, 2009

First edition of La Page AMT, August 26, 2009

The Agence métropolitaine de transport has announced that, starting Wednesday, it will be communicating with customers via a page in the free daily 24 Heures once a week. The first such page, announcing their new train cars, is available as a PDF. It appears on Page 12 of Wednesday’s edition.

If this idea sounds eerily similar to the Info STM page in Metro, it’s no coincidence. It all goes back to how these two newspapers got started.

A tale of two free commuter dailies

Metro began publication on March 1, 2001, a partnership between Swedish-based Metro and Montreal-based Transcontinental. A key part of the business plan for this newspaper was a deal it struck with the Société de transport de Montréal (then the Société de transport de la communauté urbaine de Montréal or STCUM). In exchange for exclusive distribution inside the metro system, the newspaper would give 2% of its advertising revenues (guaranteed at $900,000 for the first three years) to the transit agency. It would also give a free page in every issue to the STM so it could more easily offer information to metro users.

Before Metro’s first issue went out the door, Quebecor Media launched a campaign against the deal. Cease-and-desist letters went out to both the STM and Metro, followed by a lawsuit. Even a letter from former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a member of Quebecor’s board of directors. Quebecor’s argument was that a restriction against other newspapers distributing freely in the metro was a violation of its right to free expression.

The lawsuit was rejected in 2003, and in 2005 the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal. (A similar lawsuit happened in Philadelphia against Metro, and it too ended up losing in court.) Quebecor was clearly not going to win this battle in court.

24 Heures from four years ago (Aug. 26, 2005)

24 Heures from four years ago (Aug. 26, 2005)

24 Heures, Quebecor’s answer to Metro, was launched as Montréal Métropolitain less than two weeks after Metro began distribution. Because of the agreement between Metro and the STM, the paper is distributed outside metro stations. And because of Montreal’s ban on newspaper distribution boxes, the company has to hire people to actually hand copies out to commuters. Without a distribution system in the metro, 24 Heures suffered, and constantly lags behind Metro in circulation figures.

At some point since its launch, 24 Heures decided to focus more on places Metro doesn’t distribute (which is basically everywhere outside the metro). One of those places is commuter train stations, where you’ll find yellow 24 Heures boxes but no Metro.

So it makes sense that the AMT and 24 Heures team up with this page.

What’s unclear is whether the AMT is paying 24 Heures for this page, or whether it’s being offered as part of an agreement with the AMT. I’ve asked the AMT about it, and will update this post with what they say.

La Page AMT will be published every Wednesday in 24 Heures starting August 26. 24 Heures is available in virtual format free online.

8 thoughts on “So Metro goes to the STM, 24 Heures goes to the AMT

  1. Guillaume Theoret

    24 Heure’s circulation is smaller than Metro’s? That’s surprising. I always thought it was a great idea to hand it out outside the metro since if you already have a newspaper on your way in why would you pick up another? Generally it’s more or less the same stories in both anyway.

  2. Tux

    So the STM filled the entire city and public transit system with litter for an advertising contract. Their greenwashing advertising campaign looks even less convincing now!

  3. allisonshine

    Newspaper wars. So fun.

    I take the train daily from the West Island and for the past month or so, there has been a person handing out the Metro paper on the platform of my station.

    BUT, I’m happy to see that the AMT is finding another way to easily offer information to train users. I cringe everytime one of their employees hands me a white 8.5 x 11 page of info that is printed only on one side telling me such useful things like I can now purchase my train pass at any Opus machine.

    I’m wondering though, when will the AMT take the time to update their website?

  4. Jean Naimard

    I cannot say much, but in the works right now is an electronic passenger information system that will give detailed transit information to passengers.

    1. James

      The London scene is interesting. The latest edition of the BBC Radio 4 ‘Media Show’ (accessible until next Wednesday discussed the recent decision by Rupert Murdoch’s News International Corp. to close the ‘London Paper.’ This leaves the competing ‘London Lite’ with free reign over the evening market, but in an advertising climate that makes it impossible for ever a lone player to turn a profit. It’ll be interesting to see if ‘London Lite’ choose to stick it out on their own.

  5. Kim

    I refuse to read both publications. What a waste of paper! And they create so much litter on the metros…no wonder STM had to create a “keep the metro clean” campaign.

    They should invest in those screens that are on the cars on the orange line and put them on every line if they want to distribute information.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The Télécité screens can’t be installed on the older MR-63 trains for technical reasons. In any case, those trains will be retired in what will hopefully be a few years from now when the new cars get delivered.

      The STM is also installing ad-supported video screens throughout the network.

      But, of course, these things can only relay so much information at a time. People are still going to pick up the paper, even if it’s only to do the Sudoku or crossword puzzle.


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