Category Archives: Glacier Media Inc.

Black Press purchases Island newspapers in deal with Glacier Media


Glacier Media Inc. has sold its Vancouver Island Newspaper Group to Victoria-based Black Press.

Black Press takes operational control of that group on March 2. That includes Cowichan Valley Citizen, Nanaimo Daily News and Alberni Valley Times.

The sale does not include the Times Colonist.

– read the entire story here

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

BC’s Local News Monopolies Grow with Recent Closures


Glacier’s Kamloops paper shut down despite company profit margins above 30 per cent.

Vancouver-based Glacier Media, which recently gave notice it will close the long-publishing Kamloops Daily News, enjoys profit margins above 30 per cent, according to financial reports available on its website. It also reportedly pays its top executives millions of dollars a year and pays its directors $1,000 for each meeting they attend.

Glacier, which publishes 37 newspapers in B.C., including six other dailies, served the required 60-days notice of closure under Section 54 of the B.C. Labour Code, according to Unifor Local 2000, which represents about 45 of its workers.

In a front-page story, the Daily News blamed its demise on financial pressures. “The reason for the closure is economic — revenues have declined and The Daily News has been unable to reduce expenses sufficiently to continue as a viable operation.” Daily News publisher Tim Shoults attributed the pending closure to a persistent inability to make ends meet.

“We have struggled for the last several years, worked tirelessly and taken many difficult steps along the way which were designed to ensure our future,” he was quoted as saying in the article. “Unfortunately the realities of our industry, our local advertising market and our labour situation were too great for us to overcome.”

Unifor Local 2000 president Mike Bocking declined comment, saying the union is currently in talks with the company on behalf of its members. A source at the Kamloops Daily News told The Tyee that the newspaper could be closed as early as this week after an agreement is reached with the union on severance pay for terminated workers. Shoults did not respond to a voicemail request for comment.

Move to monopolies

Its latest quarterly report, however, shows that Glacier posted earnings of $66 million on revenues of $219.5 million through the first nine months of 2013, for a profit margin of 30.1 per cent. That was down from earnings of $70.7 million on revenues of $219.9 million in the same period during 2012, for a profit margin of 32.2 percent.

In November, Glacier announced a program of “Value Enhancement Initiatives” designed to “enhance its operations and financial position.” Among the listed measures were real estate sales and the sale of non-core assets, including two money-losing community newspapers. “Given the softness currently being experienced in the Company’s community media operations, a variety of significant cost reduction measures have and are being implemented to reduce overall operating costs.” Included in the cost-cutting measures,according to the Vancouver Sun, has been the contracting out of advertising production to companies in India and the Philippines for several of its newspapers, including the Kamloops Daily News.

In 2010, Glacier sold 11 of its newspapers to Victoria-based Black Press, including the Nelson Daily News and Prince Rupert Daily News, which competed with Black Press newspapers in those markets and were immediately closed, giving Black Press two lucrative local monopolies. Late last year, Glacier also sold Black Press its Abbotsford/Mission Times, which competed with the Black Press-owned Abbotsford News. Black Press promptly closed its new acquisition, giving it another monopoly.

The pending closure of Glacier’s Kamloops Daily News, which began life in 1931 as the Kamloops Shopper, continues the trend toward consolidation and monopoly in B.C.’s community newspaper industry. The competing Kamloops This Week, which now enjoys a monopoly, announced plans to increase its publication frequency to three times a week in the wake of the Daily News closure. Kamloops This Week is owned by Kelowna-based Aberdeen Publishing, a small chain that owns about a dozen community newspapers, including in Prince George and Fort St. John, where Glacier publishes dailies. It is operated by the low-profile Bob Doull.

Less-than-glacial growth

Glacier has grown rapidly to rank as one of Canada’s largest publishers of small and medium-sized newspapers. In addition to B.C., where it also owns Business in Vancouver, the Vancouver Courier and the suburban Now newspapers, Glacier also owns newspapers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. It began life as a bottled water company in 1988 before moving into the newspaper business a decade later.

Glacier grew in 2000, when it bought several newspapers, including the Kamloops Daily News and Prince George Citizen from Conrad Black, who had acquired them a few years earlier in his takeover of Southam Inc., Canada’s largest newspaper publisher. Glacier grew considerably in 2006 by buying another 25 newspapers and 73 magazines from Black’s imploding company Hollinger International.

It grew again in 2011 by purchasing 23 newspapers from Postmedia Network (the latest incarnation of Southam) for $86.4 million, including the Victoria Times Colonist. Glacier is controlled by Vancouver real estate magnate Sam Grippo and operated by CEO Jonathon Kennedy, a former investment banker and Harvard MBA.

According to the B.C. Reporter, a blog on community journalism in Western Canada that was discontinued in March, Glacier’s top three executives were compensated with salaries and fees exceeding $2 million each in 2009. According to the blog, which cited figures gleaned from the company’s 2010 annual report, the company’s directors were also each paid $1,000 for every meeting they attended. Neither Kennedy nor Orest Smysnuik, Glacier’s chief financial officer, returned calls after more than 24 hours.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Black Press shuts down Abbotsford/Mission Times


Black Press Media has shut down the Abbotsford/Mission Times, a little more than a month after purchasing the B.C. paper from Glacier Media. The company also took down the newspaper’s website and closed its Twitter account.

When asked why the company was shutting down a newspaper it considered a worthy purchase in October, Rick O’Connor, president and CEO of Black Media, told J-Source the newspaper was losing “too much revenue” and not making enough money on advertisements.

“The losses were far greater than we had expected,” he said. “We’re not miracle workers … there is only so much we can do.”

O’Connor said most of the Times staff took the severance package offered by Glacier Media, leaving only four of the original 13 staff. “You can’t do the same work when a significant majority is gone.” Black Press will discuss future options for the remaining staff within the company.

As part of the sale from Glacier Media, Black Press also purchased the Chilliwack Times, which O’Connor said continues to operate for now alongside its competitor, Chilliwack Progress. He would not, however, comment on its financial viability.

“It was our belief that it didn’t make sense for readers to receive two community newspapers in the Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack markets on the same publishing days with tremendous duplication of content,” said Randy Blair, president of the Black Press Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island divisions, in a statement. “In light of this, Black Press has harmonized publication days in the Chilliwack market so that the Chilliwack Times and the Chilliwack Progress will publish on different days.”

Black Press also owns the Abbotsford News, which will continue to publish.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Members ratify new contract at Times Colonist

The Victoria Joint Council of Newspaper Unions

Here are the voting results from the  Victoria Joint Council of Newspaper Unions:
TNG-CWA Guild              96% in favour of tentative agreement.
TNG-CWA Mailers          92% in favour of tentative agreement.
CEP Compositors             86% in favour of tentative agreement.
CEP Pressmen                   73% in favour of tentative agreement.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Nanaimo Daily News members vote in favour of strike

Members of Local 2000 working at the Nanaimo Daily News voted Wednesday in favour of a strike, if necessary, after talks with the employer broke down last week. Pressmen voted 100% in favour of strike action, while members in Composing, Sales, Pre-Press and Editorial covered under one agreement voted 85% in favour, in an effort to secure a new agreement with their employer.
CEP Local 525G, which represents the mailroom staff at the Daily News, had already taken a vote and the members delivered a 100% strike mandate to their committee.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Nanaimo Daily News members to take strike vote


Members of CEP Local 2000 working at the Nanaimo Daily News will take a strike vote, after talks with the employer broke down last Wednesday.

Voting will take place at the Beban Park Community Center  2300 Bowen Road on October 10th, with meetings scheduled for noon and 5:30 p.m.

The employer is seeking removal of language that protects against contracting out in both Editorial and Pre-Press/Ad Building departments. The company also wants to eliminate the Composing room agreement and reduce manning in the Pressroom. It is also offering a wage freeze for three years.

CEP Local 525G, which represents the mailroom staff at the Daily News, has already taken a vote and the members delivered a 100% strike mandate to their committee.

On a sad note, the Local would like to pass along condolences to the family of Brother Walter Cordery of the Editorial department at the Daily News who passed away last weekend. His funeral will be held Friday Oct. 5 at the Beban Park Center at 2:00 p.m.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Glacier Media Q2 profit falls as former Postmedia papers squeeze profit margins


VANCOUVER – Newspaper publisher Glacier Media Inc. (TSX:GVC) says its profit margins have been squeezed by community papers acquired last year from Postmedia.

The Vancouver-based company’s net income fell to $5.3 million or six cents per share in the third quarter, down from $7 million or eight cents per share a year earlier, before the deal with Postmedia.

Revenue increased, however, due largely to the addition of the Victoria Times-Colonist and other former Postmedia papers starting in November as well as growth at Glacier’s business and trade information operations.

Glacier Media’s total revenue was $91.4 million, up from $71.7 million in the second quarter of 2011. Comparing assets that Glacier has owned for at least a year, consolidated revenue was relatively flat.

Glacier’s consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was $17.1 million, up 12.1 per cent from $15.3 million a year earlier.

Glacier said its consolidated EBITDA margin decreased to 18.7 per cent for the quarter from 21.3 per cent for the same quarter last year as a result of the lower margins of the Postmedia assets acquired.

“Management will seek to improve the margins and profit performance of the assets acquired through improved print and digital sales effectiveness, cost efficiency and other initiatives,” the company said.

Meanwhile GVIC Communication Corp. (TSX:GCT), a related company, reported separately that it had $5.2 million or 1.7 cents per share of net income attributable to shareholders with $91.4 million of revenue.

A year earlier,GVIC had $71.7 million of revenue and $7.7 million or 2.6 cents per share of net income attributable to common shareholders.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email