Montreal Star closes

September 25, 2008

On this day in 1979, the Montreal Star ceases publication after 110 years in print. Closing the successful newspaper was part of a deal between the Southam and Thompson chains to stop competing against each other in four major markets in Canada. That kind of gerrymandering prompted the establishment of the Kent Commission on newspaper ownership and subsequent government interest in newspaper ownership transaction.

Interesting to see how the Montreal Star’s best staff fared after the closure. Dennis Trudeau went straight to a successful career in broadcasting (still ongoing). Sports reporter Red Fisher and literary editor Doris Giller were welcomed by the Montreal Gazette. Cartoonist extraordinaire Terry Mosher (Aislin) had already crossed over to competitor Montreal Gazette in 1972. None left Montreal.


Radio stations still profitable

August 25, 2008

Private radio stations in Canada increased their profits again, says Statistics Canada. What’s the trick? Better programming? Better-staffed newsrooms to compete with television’s best? Radio ads that don’t sound like they’re made by a bunch of screeching banshees?

Nope. Says StatsCan:

Regulatory changes in 1998 allowed greater concentration of ownership, which helped radio withstand the competition from other media. The industry also rationalized its operations by transferring AM stations to the generally more popular and more profitable FM band.

English-language stations reported the best profit margin (+21.4%), followed by French-language stations (+13.8%) and ethnic stations (+7.9%). This ranking has remained unchanged since 1998. English-language stations’ main competitive advantage is that they spend a smaller percentage of their revenues on programming and administration, two areas where greater ownership concentration offers economies of scale.

But there’s at least one real good news:

The industry had a weekly average of 10,239 employees in 2007, up 3.2% from the previous year. This is the first time since 1991 that employment in the industry has topped 10,000.

Further Reading: Bill Carney’s blog on the StatsCan study. He sounds happy enough.


Conrad Black on a shopping spree

July 27, 2008

On this day in 1995, Conrad Black’s Hollinger buys 19 local newspapers from the old Thompson chain. Later in the year, he grabs Regina’s Leader-Post and Saskatoon’s Star-Phoenix. Thirteen more newspapers would follow one year later, as well as a good chunk of Southam’s shares. It goes on and on until 1998, when Hollinger establishes the national Post and starts selling other assets.