Two Big Canadian Chains Partner with Metro

By: E&P Staff The publishers of Canada's two largest newspapers are forming a joint venture with the Metro International to publish English-language free dailies around the nation, the three companies announced Monday as they launched a free paper in Vancouver, B.C.

Torstar Corporation, publisher of Canada's largest circulation daily, The Toronto Star, and CanWest Global Communications Corp., owner of The National Post, a Toronto-based national newspaper, will each have a one-third share in the venture with Metro.

Monday's launch of Metro Vancouver marked the third Canadian city in which Metro distributes its fast-read daily aimed at commuters. Metro said its distribution in Vancouver will be 145,000 initially, with plans to increase that to 160,000.

Metro launched its first free paper in Toronto in 2001. The Star and The Toronto Sun both responded with free papers of their own. A few months later, the Star bought a 50% interest in Metro Toronto, and merged its paper into the Metro edition. The Sun quietly folded its free paper at about the same time. (In November 2003, it created the free paper 24 Hours, which now circulates in Toronto and Montreal.)

"We are delighted to extend our current relationship with Metro International to include CanWest as we launch our free daily newspaper, Metro, in Vancouver,? Torstar President and CEO Robert Prichard said in a statement. "We ... expect our new partnership will launch new editions of Metro in other Canadian cities in the months and years ahead. By combining the resources and skills of our three companies, we will add a new voice in Vancouver and provide an important new vehicle to advertisers."

Advertising sales for Metro International have grown at a compounded annual rate of 47% since the launch of the first edition in 1995, Metro said.

In the United States, The New York Times Co. recently bought a stake in Metro's Boston newspaper.

Correction, March 16: The original version of this story incorrectly identified CanWest Global Communications as owner of The Globe and Mail. In fact, the Globe and Mail is owned by Bell Globemedia. Also, the original version of this story stated that The Toronto Sun folded its first free commuter paper in 2001 without mentioning that it subsequently launched 24 Hours.


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