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Canadian Business May Be Shut Down: Sources

Canadian Business was founded in 1928.

Canadian Business, the country’s oldest publication of its kind, may be on the verge of closing its doors after 87 years.

Rogers Media Inc., which owns Canadian Business, is looking at shuttering the publication, several company sources told The Huffington Post Canada.

Canadian Business is losing subscribers and “there is no money to be had,” Phil Lind, the vice-chairman of the board at Rogers Communications told HuffPost on Monday.

The company’s venture into Texture, the re-named magazine app first launched as Next Issue, hasn’t been as profitable as expected, he added, and Rogers’ television stations are also struggling.

Maclean’s Magazine — Rogers’ national current affairs publication — is “not yet” on the chopping block, Lind said.

Rumours of Maclean’s demise have been percolating for over a decade. “It could be a year away, or it could be five years away,” another source said.

Canadian Business, which was founded in 1928, is owned by Rogers Media Inc. (Photo: Darren Calabrese/CP)

Last month, Rogers announced it was slashing approximately 200 jobs, or four per cent of its workforce. Pink slips in conventional television, radio, publishing and back-office positions are already going out the door, and more are expected to follow.

In a memo to staff, Rogers cited a “softening advertising market, fierce competition from global players, and shifting audience consumption habits” among its reasons for reducing headcount.

“This was not an easy decision, but it was right for our business long-term,” the memo read. “While difficult, these changes are essential to delivering on our Rogers 3.0 plan and to position us for continued success and future growth while helping us effectively manage costs.”

It’s unclear whether the company will seek a new buyer for Canadian Business or will “run the publication into the ground,” as another executive put it.

“We do not comment on rumours or speculation.”

Canadian Business editor-in-chief James Cowan expressed surprise when first contacted two weeks ago about his magazine’s future. Cowan said he had not heard any talk about “shuttering” the publication.

In an unsolicited email, Rogers Media’s senior director of communications Andrea Goldstein wrote: “We do not comment on rumours or speculation.”

On Tuesday, Goldstein said “there are no plans at this time” to close any of Rogers’ 57 publications.

Canadian Business is a multiple award-winning magazine. With a posted circulation of 85,027, Rogers says the outlet has approximately 335,000 unique visitors monthly — a count that refers to the number of times a device, app, smartphone or desktop, visits the publication online.

Founded in Montreal in 1928 as the official newsletter of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Business became available to the general public two years later. Two ownership changes later, Rogers took over the publication when it made a hostile takeover bid for Maclean Hunter in 1994. At the time, writer George Garneau noted that analysts predicted the company’s newspaper and magazine holdings were likely candidates for sale “because of their poor financial performance.”

Media cuts

The cuts at Rogers were just the latest in a wave of bad news on the Canadian media front. Several publications closed or announced staff layoffs in recent weeks.

The Guelph Mercury ended its 149-year-old print edition, laying off 23 full-time and three part-time employees on Jan. 29. That same day, the 141-year-old Nanaimo Daily News also closed its doors.

On Jan. 19, Canada’s largest newspaper chain Postmedia announced it was eliminating 90 newsroom positions across the country.

Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey recently announced layoffs across Canada. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

A memo from Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey said the company was consolidating newsrooms between its broadsheet newspapers and Sun Media tabloids in Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, and merging sports coverage to help find at least $80 million in savings before the end of fiscal 2017.

Reporters would be writing in an “agnostic” voice, Godfrey said and a new “rewrite” desk will be charged with editing stories to have the “right voice” for specific brands and platforms.

“We will continue to operate our broadsheet newspapers and our tabloid newspapers in their current formats and with the features and focus that our readers have come to expect from their favourite news brands,” read the memo.

Last year, Bell Media cut hundreds of its local news employees mostly in Toronto and Montreal despite announcing it had made a slight profit in a recent quarter.

— With files from Zi-Ann Lum

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