Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Be ready to pay more for papers: Godfrey

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TORONTO -- The owner of the National Post says Canadians who enjoy reading the newspaper, and getting it delivered to their homes, should expect to start paying more.

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. chief executive Paul Godfrey told shareholders Thursday print isn't dead, but it's costing media companies more to produce because advertising revenues are dropping.

Postmedia plans to shift its strategy to focus more on exclusive content and "unashamedly charge for products of value," he said at the company's annual meeting.

He also outlined plans to redesign most of Postmedia's 10 big-city newspapers.

"We know that our print loyalists will pay for this premium product," Godfrey said in prepared remarks.

"And they will have to pay more to benefit from home delivery because it costs more, and advertisers aren't carrying as much of the load as they used to."

Godfrey's outlook for his dailies, and the industry as a whole, came as Postmedia reported a first-quarter loss of $11.8 million, weakened by lower advertising revenues and soaring costs to rework its operations.

Like most of the newspaper industry, Postmedia has been grappling with a years-long trend of readers and advertisers turning away from print publications to digital media, including websites.

To counter the decline, Postmedia began a three-year plan to dramatically change its business model by setting up digital pay walls for its websites, ending the publication of many Sunday newspapers and selling its headquarters in Toronto.

In his speech, Godfrey said Postmedia will prioritize an initiative to create more premium content that emphasizes regular columnists, insights on hot topics and reworked sections that cater to niche audiences such as luxury car enthusiasts.

"Whatever it is that our audiences value most, we'll value most too," he said.

"And we know what those things are because we've done the research, by platform, by audience, by market."

Some of the changes in the works include redesigning eight of its 10 newspapers, with the National Post and tabloid Vancouver Province being the two exceptions.

Postmedia rose from the ashes of bankrupt media company Canwest when Godfrey culled together a group of investors in 2010.

Since then, the company has been focused on reworking its operations, which has included shutting down an in-house news-wire service.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 B8

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