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.
UPDATE: The new owners are in negotiations with the union, and it doesn’t look good.
Gesca, the company that owns La Presse, Cyberpresse and Le Soleil, told its employees this week it was seeking volunteers who want to take early retirement with a buyout.
Le Devoir and Argent have stories. Cyberpresse, of course, is entirely silent on the issue.
Le Soleil is apparently looking to eliminate 20-35 positions through buyouts of three weeks’ pay per year of service, up to 52 weeks.
La Presse management has called a meeting of employees for Monday, at which point they’ll explain what’s going on at the flagship paper. Management hasn’t quashed a rumour that the paper will cease publishing on Sundays.
Gesca had been one of the few major media companies to avoid large job cuts over the past two years. But it’s clear with a plummeting advertising market that nobody is safe.
Pauline Marois, apparently desperately looking for something to be outraged about, thought she found something in a report from the Caisse de dépôt et placement. There she discovered that the Caisse had lent money to Gesca Ltée, the company that owns La Presse.
The scandal, she figured, had to do with the fact that the former head of the Caisse, Henri-Paul Rousseau, now works for Power Corporation, the company that owns Gesca. Clearly this presented a conflict of interest.
Except, as the government pointed out, the first loan was issued before Rousseau was hired at the Caisse (by the PQ government, no less).
That revelation doesn’t entirely absolve Rousseau of the appearance of conflict (other loans were issued during his term), but one wonders if Marois would have been so critical if it involved a company that didn’t have such apparent ties to the Liberal Party of Canada.
The petty legal war between the francophone media continues, as Groupe TVA (read: Quebecor/TVA/Journal de Montréal/Canoe) sent a lawyer’s letter to Groupe Gesca (read: La Presse/Cyberpresse) demanding that they retract statements that suggested the whole blurring-the-face-of-Bernier’s-biker-girlfriend thing was done on orders from management, according to Le Devoir (subscription-locked, sorry).
Specifically, it takes issue with an article from Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien and a blog post from Patrick Lagacé, both of which suggest that the decision was suspicious (the latter suggests that a friendship between Maxime Bernier and Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Péladeau might have something to do with it).
I honestly have no idea what’s going through the minds of people at Quebecor (or just TVA?). Are they suggesting that management was not involved in this decision, and that any statement otherwise libels them somehow? Are we to believe that some non-management person made such a controversial decision on a major news story without discussing it with higher-ups?
And are we just to take it as coincidence that the Journal and TVA, both owned by Quebecor, are the only two news outlets that have kept her name secret?
Seriously, what’s their problem?
UPDATE: The Gazette’s Liz Thompson is also like: Dude, WTF?
The Globe and Mail has an interesting article today about the state of TQS. The network is in pretty bad shape, sitting a far third behind RadCan and TVA, cutting jobs and desperately looking for a buyer.
One idea being thrown around is to have TQS be bought by Power Corporation’s Gesca, which owns La Presse/Cyberpresse/Le Soleil. Apparently some would find it funny if Gesca was running the station behind Bleu Nuit.
UPDATE (Nov. 10): Le Devoir looks at Radio Nord, which owns two TQS affiliates in Gatineau and Abitibi.