Friday, November 26, 2010

Canadian Press is news cooperative no more; bought by three major media companies

Long a cooperative news agency, Canadian Press has now after 93 years been effectively turned into a for-profit business.
Torstar Corp., the Globe and Mail and the publishers of La Presse (Square Victoria Communications Group) have capitalized Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. which takes over the entire operations of the service. 
This is not a surprise, since the troubled institution announced a year ago that it was going to change it business model, a decision ratified by its membership. The principal problem for CP was a $35 million shortfall in meeting its pension obligations to employees and retirees. It required dispensation from the tax authorities to negotiate a way out of this shortfall. The co-op's problems were exacerbated by the exit of two of its biggest stakeholders -- CanWest Global Communications Corp. which started its own news service, Postmedia and Quebecor Media Inc's Sun Media -- and the consequent substantial loss of membership revenue. According to a story in the Globe and Mail
“CP is a very important national institution,” The Globe’s publisher and chief executive officer Phillip Crawley said Friday. “The government was right to recognize that this needed special support.
The co-operative’s board will now be replaced by a board consisting of two representatives for each of the new owners; including Mr. Crawley, Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank, and Guy Crevier, president of Gesca and president and publisher of La Presse. The new board will have its first meeting on Monday.
Working together as an ownership team guarantees that CP will be able to continue its tradition of delivering quality content across Canada in the years ahead,” Mr. Crevier said in a statement.
Canadian Press was established in 1917 to be a national exchange for news and information from and to its members who owned it. It was the principal conduit for news from south of the border, from Canadian Press's equivalent the Associated Press. In its early days, the service was subsidized by the government. It created a subsidiary called Broadcast News to deliver information, newscasts and audio to radio and television. And in 1951, it launched a French service. 
CP has one of the largest archives of, now historical, news pictures and was the arbiter of written "CP style" through its ubiquitous Stylebook and Caps and Spelling book.



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