The Gleaner
Opinions

End of Publisac signals big change for local media

TC Transcontinental has announced it is ending its weekly flyer distribution service through the Publisac after 45 years. The flyer bundles will be replaced by Raddar, a thin leaflet that will be delivered to households by Canada Post starting sometime between February and May.

The good news is this new format will greatly reduce the amount of paper used. The bad news is that this move will impact over 50 community newspapers who rely on the Publisac model for distribution. This includes the local newspapers published by Gravité Média, such as Le Journal Saint-François and the Soleil de Chateauguay.

It is a challenging time for media. We hear about job losses in the industry or newspapers closing on a regular basis now. TVA Group just announced it would be laying off about one third of its workforce. Bell Media cut 1,300 jobs last June. And, in a speech last week to the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, CBC/Radio Canada CEO Catherine Tait revealed the national broadcaster would have to address over $100 million in budget “pressures” next year.

The media landscape is bumpier still at the local level. When Métro Média declared bankruptcy in August, it permanently ended hyperlocal news coverage in more than 30 communities across the province. We can hope that the newspapers relying on the Publisac seize this change to innovate and develop new opportunities, so this type of tragedy does not repeat itself.

The Bloc Québécois has implored Canada Post to take over newspaper distribution at a preferential rate, while Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille and her colleagues have called for a $50 million emergency fund to help local media weather this crisis.

This might provide some cover, but what we newspapers really need right now is rock-solid community support to strengthen our foundation as we withstand these blows.
Sarah Rennie

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