Monday, March 05, 2007

Free dailies race to be first in Calgary, Edmonton

There must be vast parts of Canada that are utterly unremarkable. Calgary and Edmonton must be among those areas -- at least if you're a newspaper publisher. From what we can tell, Calgary and Edmonton were cities in Canada for 100 years or more, but it was only in Feburary that the free newspaper industry discovered them. One company, Sun Media Corp. (Quebecor), said, "Hey, don't you know that there are cities in the province of Alberta called Edmonton and Calgary." So they raced to launch editions of their "24 Hours" in those cities. Both cities are in the Alberta province, which the CP (a frequent source of news for Canada's free dailies) says is "growing rapidly and attracting workers from other parts of the country. The advertising market is strong because the retail, construction and housing sectors are all booming." OK. So when is Metro International arriving? According to Media In Canada, March 5 in Calgary and in April 2 in Edmonton with 60,000 copies in each of the two markets (a total of 120,000 in Alberta).

Commentary: For years we've been reading about how the traditional printed newspaper is history and that the Web is the future. Yet it's funny that, in order to be seen in these new Alberta markets, you've got to print a helluva lot of newspapers -- like 120,000 a day in Alberta, or 2.5 million in a month. Imagine that it costs 10 cents (U.S.) to print each copy of these papers, a number we know varies based on page count, paper supplier and other factors. Still, that's $3 million a year. Is there that much advertising in, where, Alberta? Oh well, let's watch these titans of free dailies duke it out.