Tag Archives: Branchez-Vous

Branchez-Vous unplugged

I suppose it was kind of inevitable. The independent media company Branchez-Vous!, known for its boring-looking Web portal, its news service that cribs other news services, and other websites including Showbizz.net and Fanatique.ca, has been bought by Rogers Media for $25 million, pending approval from shareholders (though administrators with 76% of the stock have already agreed to the takeover).

As much as the media holdings are valuable, though, the acquisition’s main value seems to come from the advertising network used by bloggers and more mainstream sites like Le Devoir and Rue Frontenac.

Financially, the deal is pretty sweet for B-V. The 40-cents-per-share price is 242% of the company’s closing share price on Thursday and about double what the stock has been trading over the past six months at least.

But as much as I think the company is worth every penny of the asking price, I can’t help but feel a bit sad at the loss of one of the few truly independent media sources left in Quebec.

It’s not that I think Rogers is evil (okay, I do think Rogers is evil, but not more than its competitors) or that there will be some radical change to the way Branchez-Vous operates (they’ve already said all management and employees are staying). It’s that a decision that was made by a small management team might now have to go through focus groups to remove any chance that it might offend anyone or detract in some way from the company’s branding.

And even though the acquisition seems to be like a poodle eating a horse (Rogers’s holdings in francophone Quebec are pretty limited – Châtelaine, L’actualité and LOULOU, plus some lesser-known magazines and trade publications – and its web properties get about a quarter of the traffic of Branchez-Vous’s network), expect B-V to look more like Rogers by the end of this than Rogers looks like B-V.

Expect, for example, that Branchez-Vous freelancers are forced to sign Rogers Media’s draconian contracts, that would grant Rogers the ability to freely reuse B-V content in its magazines.

And next time there’s a labour conflict involving a media company (as was the case with Rue Frontenac), expect them to think a lot harder before deciding to take sides.

Most of all, a company that already took itself far too seriously will now do so even more.

But I guess it could have been worse. They could have been bought by Quebecor.

Pierre Trudel joins Fanatique.ca

A year after refusing an “insulting” contract renewal at CKAC and a month after his last column at La Presse, Pierre Trudel has joined Fanatique.ca as a star Habs blogger. His first post is a self-introduction. You can also read this old Journal piece to get an idea of who he is.

On his blog, he talks about the Habs and recounts rumours (though at least he describes them as such).

Fanatique.ca is owned by Branchez-Vous, and while not the most spectacular poaching in journalistic history (talk to me when you’ve convinced François Gagnon or Red Fisher to come on board), it is a step toward making BV a serious media outlet in the city.

Now that I’ve posted this, maybe Carl Charest will stop bothering me.

2/3 support Journal de Montréal workers (by default)

Branchez-Vous has the EXCLUSIF today: a poll it commissioned shows that about two thirds (literally 66.7%) of Quebecers support the 253 workers who were locked out by the Journal de Montréal in January.

But the full results of the survey show that about the same percentage (65.5%) support the employees and their union in labour conflicts in general. So it’s probably fair to say that the level of support is more of a default position than any serious analysis of the conflict. This is backed up by results showing that while the vast majority (82.7%) of Quebecers are aware of the lockout, three quarters of them (70% in Montreal) say they know little or nothing about the reasons behind it.

Who wins in this is a good question. The union will no doubt consider this a big win, because it looks good on its face and because initially it seemed the public might turn its backs on the union because of the generous working conditions (32-hour weeks, high salaries, etc.). Despite Quebecor’s efforts, this seems not to be the case.

But public support is irrelevant if people are still buying newspapers and advertisers are still putting ads. We don’t know how this is affecting the Journal financially, but that will be the big decider in all this.

The online poll of 1125 adult Quebecers taken Feb. 10-16 (margin of error 3% 19 times out of 20) also breaks down its answers by region (Montreal, Quebec and other), though the only one that shows a significant difference is that people who live in and near Quebec City support locked-out Journal workers more than they would workers in general. This is probably a result of the long Journal de Québec conflict, which also began with a lockout.


Online survey shows people are online

I just got alerted to this OMG EXCLUSIVE OMG story at Branchez-Vous, which claims that 1 in 4 francophone Quebecers over 18 is on Facebook, and that number goes up to 54% when you limit it to adults 18-24.

Those numbers seemed suspiciously high to me, especially since before this week Facebook was an English website and therefore its reach in Quebec was lower than the rest of Canada.

Then I came across this:

Ce sondage a été effectué en ligne auprès de 1257 répondants du 11 au 15 février 2008. Sa marge d’erreur est de 2,8%.

So this was an online survey. Not only does that outright dismiss the non-trivial (albeit dwindling) portion of Quebecers without regular Internet access, but online surveys are notoriously unreliable. More importantly, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that those willing to take online surveys are more likely to have the kind of free time to waste online that would make them more likely to be members of Facebook in the first place.

So take those results with a grain of salt.