Thursday, May 31, 2007

Canadian publisher sells free dailies

CanWest, the largest publisher of newspapers in Canada including the Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun, is selling its one-third interest in the Metro newspapers in Edmonton, Ottawa and Vancouver to Metro Internationl and Torstar Corp., the publisher of the Toronto Star newspaper. Metro International and Torstar will now be 50-50 partners in the two Metro papers.

As a result, Torstar and Metro International will now own five Metro papers across the country -- including ones in Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton.

CanWest this year rolled out its own free daily, RushHour, in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. As a result, it was essentially competing against itself as long as it held its share in the Metro papers.

“We had come to the conclusion that these two properties are no longer a strategic fit for our publishing group,” Dennis Skulsky, president of CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

Metro Canada executives were happy CanWest was pulling out of the partnership: "With a consistent ownership structure now in place in all five English Metro markets, the Metro newspapers will be managed with a single-minded focus on the development and growth of the Metro brand across English Canada," said Jagoda Pike, president of Star Media Group and chair of the board of directors of the English Canada Metro newspapers.