April 13, 2017 Last Updated 10:10 am

Transcontinental Inc. sells media assets in Atlantic Canada to publisher of Chronicle Herald

The sale of 27 papers to The Halifax Herald Ltd will create a new publishing company called SaltWire Network Inc., but the new owners are still dealing with a strike by the union representing the Herald’s newsroom, which has now lasted over a year

‘Today, we are the news.” That is what is leading the website for The Guardian, the newspaper serving Prince Edward Island, Canada. The news is that Transcontinental Inc. has sold off its publication portfolio in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick.

The sale of the assets, listed below in the announcement, will effect 650 TC Media employees in Atlantic Canada, with the new owner being a familiar face, the publisher of the daily newspaper The Chronicle Herald, The Halifax Herald Ltd.

The merging of the properties will create a new company to be called SaltWire Network Inc.

Some of the details of the sale are a bit hazy, but the report today in The Guardian states that the owner of the Herald approached Transcontinental and a deal was reached. The new company paid some cash, as well as financing from the paper’s banker, Integrated Private Debt Corp.

“The historic move — which sees the Quebec printing and media giant today sell a combined 28 publications and web brands, as well as printing and distribution assets, to Herald brass — creates a media chain that covers every major market in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador,” wrote Thane Burnett, Content Director for TC Media Atlantic Canada newspapers. “It even extends into a sliver of New Brunswick with The Sackville Tribune-Post.”

Burnett describes the two publishing groups as “arch rivals to be battled every minute of the day.”

The new owner, however, is still facing a strike by strike by members of the Halifax Typographical Union which has now lasted 446 days. The company has been accused of trying to bust the union, making some current tasks such as page layout and editing, into nonunion positions.

“We’ve been very clear from the get-go that we need to reduce the cost of our production,” Ian Scott, Chronicle Herald vice-president, told the CBC late last year.

“We’re trying to reduce the size of the newsroom, so by definition, yes, but it has nothing to do with the union, per se,” Scott said. “It has to do with the number of people, and therefore the cost.”

Transcontinental has been covered here at TNM many times in the past as the company did some pioneering work regarding digital edition apps for their magazines. But in late 2014 came the rather shocking news that it was selling off its consumer magazines. These included some familiar titles, even to US audiences, as the company published Canadian Living and The Hockey News – titles sold to TVA Group.

In the May of last year, Transcontinental Inc. sold its Saskatchewan newspaper assets to Star News Publishing, then a month later sold its Nova Scotia printing business to Advocate Printing and Publishing.

Transcontinental shares, traded as TCL.A and TCL.B on the Toronto Stock Exchange, are little changed on the news today.

Here is Transcontinental’s latest announcement:

MONTREAL, Quebec – April 13, 2017 – Transcontinental Inc. announced today the sale of its publication portfolio in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick to SaltWire Network Inc., an important independent local media group which publishes the daily newspaper The Chronicle Herald, among others. This transaction is effective immediately and includes the sale of 28 brands and web-related properties, four printing plants operated within its Media Sector, commercial printing activities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as distribution activities in Atlantic Canada. TC Transcontinental remains the owner of the two plants operated within its printing division in this region, which are Transcontinental Halifax, located at 11 Ragged Lake Blvd. in Halifax, and Transcontinental Prince Edward Island, located at 169 Industrial Drive, in Borden-Carleton.

“SaltWire Network Inc. expressed an interest in acquiring our portfolio of titles in Atlantic Canada given how well their publications and digital products complement ours,” said Julia Kamula, Senior Vice President, Local Solutions, TC Media. “After careful consideration, we have decided to move forward with this transaction and divest of these assets. We feel this is the best decision for the continued sustainability of these operations, and that this transaction will help foster even stronger connections with the local communities that these publications serve at a time when all media are undergoing profound transformation. SaltWire Network Inc. has deep publishing roots in Atlantic Canada and we are confident that this organization is well-positioned to carry on the legacy of these brands. I would like to sincerely thank our employees for their hard work, dedication and professionalism, and wish them continued success.”

“We are pleased to have concluded this agreement with TC Media since it will strengthen our collective commitment to delivering essential news and content to the places we call home,” said Mark Lever, President and CEO of SaltWire Network Inc.

Approximately 650 TC Media employees in Atlantic Canada are part of the transaction and will receive an offer from SaltWire Network Inc.

Mr. Lever added: “We look forward to welcoming our new employees who will join the current SaltWire Network team, therefore bringing together 950 of Atlantic Canada’s best storytellers and media industry experts. Together, members of the SaltWire Network will challenge and reshape the media model and landscape in Atlantic Canada, putting our audiences first, ensuring the local angle is always prioritized and helping to connect the region in a meaningful way.”

The TC Media newspapers included in this transaction are:

  • Advertiser (The), Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L.
  • Amherst News, N.S.
  • Annapolis Valley Register (The), N.S.
  • Aurora (The), Labrador, N.L.
  • Beacon (The), Gander, N.L.
  • Cape Breton Post, N.S.
  • Citizen Record (The), Amherst, N.S.
  • Colchester Weekly News, N.S.
  • Compass (The), Carbonear, N.L.
  • Guardian (The), Charlottetown, P.E.I.
  • Gulf News (The), Port aux Basques, N.L.
  • Journal-Pioneer (The), Summerside, P.E.I.
  • Labradorian (The), Labrador, N.L.
  • News (The), New Glasgow, N.S.
  • Northern Pen (The), St. Anthony, N.L.
  • Nor’wester (The), Springdale, N.L.
  • Packet (The), Clarenville, N.L.
  • Pilot (The), Lewisporte, N.L.
  • Queens County Advance (The), N.S.
  • Sackville Tribune Post, N.B.
  • Southern Gazette (The), Marystown, N.L.
  • Telegram (The), St. John’s, N.L.
  • Tri-County Extra (The), N.S.
  • Tri-County Vanguard (The), N.S.
  • Truro Daily News, N.S.
  • Valley Journal Advertiser, N.S.
  • Western Star (The), Corner Brook, N.L

The www.novanewsnow.com website (digital-only) is also included in the transaction.

The printing plants operated within the Media Sector, and that are now owned by SaltWire Network Inc., are:

  • “Austin Dr.” in St. John’s, N.L.
  • “Columbus Dr.” in St. John’s, N.L.
  • “West St.” in Corner Brook, N.L.
  • “George St.” in Cape Breton, N.S.

Comments are closed.