By: MARK FITZGERALD
Faced with extinction by the end of the year, Canadian Press has a new lease on life now that Southam Newspapers ? under the control of Conrad Black’s Hollinger Inc. ? has canceled plans to pull its newspapers out of the 79-year-old news cooperative.
Southam’s threat last summer to pull out of CP ? and to form a competing news service by expanding its own service, Southam News ? came in a June 26 letter to CP’s then-president David Jolley from Southam vice president Gordon Fisher, who said the chain’s 20 papers were resigning effective Dec. 31.
Southam’s resignation announcement was devastating news.
For one thing, Southam contributes nearly U.S. $6 million to CP’s annual U.S. $33.8 million annual budget. Even before the Southam announcement, CP had said it intended to cut the budget by about U.S. $5 million.
For another, the withdrawal announcement started a run on the cooperative by other member newspapers. Facing the possibility that they would be left liable for all of CP’s common expenses, other member newspapers were essentially forced to serve formal withdrawal, as well.
CP bylaws require six month’s notice of withdrawal from the cooperative.
Canadian Press’ reprieve comes from a big vote of confidence from Hollinger, which controls 46 papers in the cooperative. This summer, Hollinger took control of Southam.
CP still faces tough sledding in the future, however.
Members have been clamoring for a reduction in the $26 million in annual fees they pay, and there is considerable debate internally about what services CP should provide.
CP President David Jolley stepped down in late August for what the cooperative said were “differences of opinion” with its board.
A Hollinger executive ? Michael Sifton, chairman of Sterling Newspapers ? was named chairman, replacing Roger D. Landry, president and publisher of Le Presse in Montreal.
Jim Poling, vice president/editorial, was named acting president.
CP has 350 full-time employees across Canada
and maintains news bureaus in Washington and London.
Southam cancels plans to pull its newspapers