Global round-up: Quebecor to sell newspaper division

Newspaper publisher Quebecor has agreed to a deal that will see it sell all of its 175 English-language newspapers and associated digital properties to Postmedia Network, the owner of the National Post, in a deal worth C$316 million.

The newspaper properties being sold by Quebecor, which fall under the Sun Media brand, include the Toronto Sun, the Ottawa Sun, the Winnipeg Sun, the Calgary Sun, the London Free Press and other dailies in Canada.

The deal is made up of C$140 million in debt that will be taken on by Postmedia, as well as C$186 million in new equity.

In a statement, the president and CEO of Quebecor, Pierre Dion, said that the company’s newspaper revenues have been declining yearly and that “Postmedia possesses extensive expertise and the ability and will to invest in these publications’ long-term development”.

CEO of Postmedia Network, Paul Godfrey, said in a memo to staff that was obtained by J-source, that the deal will help the company “survive and compete against the largest foreign-based digital businesses,” and help them become “strong enough to fight and win.”

“Although we are taking on more debt we’re infusing more dollars into the company in two ways: from our investors and from the new revenue that these properties will add to ours.

“By doing this transaction, we increase our total revenue, improve our cash flow and bottom line and, most of all, reduce our debt/EBITDA ratio (leverage).”

Papers top UK news source, but Facebook grows

Local newspapers remain the most trusted sources of news among Britons, but Facebook is growing its reputation as a news source, according a recent report.

The study, which was a YouGov initiative and spoke to 2000 Britons about their news habits, showed that 64 per cent maintain a strong level of trust in local newspapers, with local radio (59 per cent) and local television (58 per cent) and noticeboards (58 per cent) the next most trusted media platforms.

After this there was a significant drop off to national television (43 per cent) and local gossip (34 per cent), which were the next most trusted news sources.

Facebook and Twitter had significantly lower levels of audience trust, 21 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, however both of those figures were an increase from the previous year. The survey also showed that both platforms saw a growth in the number of people that said they use Facebook or Twitter as a news source.

Nigel Hughes, director of the board for Havas PR, which commissioned the report, said: “There’s no doubting the importance of local print media, but social media is making its way into a position of more influence locally.

“The fact 10 per cent of people expect to leave Twitter or Facebook in two years’ time, however, indicates that brands will need to be ready to adapt as competition for consumer time intensifies.

“The data shows that producing content which can be tailored for local audiences has a better chance of building trust in a brand.”

When asked what social media platforms people expected to be on over the next two years, 60 per cent said Facebook, with the next closest Twitter, at 26 per cent.

Washington Post to launch Kindle app

Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos plans to partner the content at his new newspaper business with the technology from his Amazon empire, through a new tablet app.

According to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek, Mr Bezos has had a group inside the Washington Post working on an app that will “offer a curated selection of news and photographs from the daily newspaper in a magazine-style, tablet-friendly format” and will come preinstalled on the updated version of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, which will be launched later this year.

Kindle Fire tablet owners will receive the app for free at first, and it will be available for download on other tablet devices – where it will have a monthly subscription fee.

The Bloomberg report says that the initiative has been called Project Rainbow at the newspaper and is being led by Kerry Lauerman, who is a former editor-in-chief of Salon.com and joined the Post in July as a senior editor.

In a recent article in The New York Times, David Carr wrote that Mr Bezos has hired more than 100 employees this year, after formally purchasing the newspaper in October last year.

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