Saturday, January 30, 2016

A tale of three newspapers: Nanaimo, Guelph and Kelowna. Two closed, one survives

The Guelph Mercury was selling about 9,000 papers in a metro area of 155,000 people. It closed.
The Nanaimo Daily News was selling about 5,000 papers in a market of about 100,000.
But the Kelowna Daily Courier, selling about 8,900 papers in a market of 180,000, survives.
What's different, besides the normal variations in markets?
In Guelph and Nanaimo, the same company owned both the daily newspaper and the community newspaper.
Metroland, a Toronto Star subsidiary, could close the Guelph Mercury knowing it would capture much of the ad revenue with its twice-weekly. Maybe even raise rates once the main print competitor was gone.
Black Press has the same control in Nanaimo, thanks to its deal to trade papers with Glacier Media a little over a year ago.
But in Kelowna, Black Press owns the three-times-a-week Capital News. David Radler owns the daily. And he shows no interest in closing it.
The future is bleak for daily newspapers in markets like these. In Nanaimo and Kelowna, the population has grown as people from away, as they say in Saint John, decided it was a good place to retire. They're not much interested in local news. (In fact, if they had a strong commitment to community, they wouldn't have picked up and left friends and family behind.)
But it's a lot bleaker when one owner has been able to eliminate competition between the community and daily newspapers.
The federal Competition Bureau has been useless in this area. It has primarily considered whether advertising rates will rise as a result of merger or acquisition. (Marc Edge looked at the Competition Bureau and newspapers in a Tyee piece.)