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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/10/2009 (4983 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE Winnipeg Free Press will introduce a new Sunday tabloid edition starting next month and discontinue the broadsheet version it has produced for the last 24 years.
The new product, to be called On7, will carry breaking news, sports and entertainment stories and will only be available in vending boxes for $1 or on newsstands and retail outlets for $1.25. It will not be delivered to subscribers’ homes.
FP Newspapers Income Fund, which owns the Free Press, announced the change Thursday afternoon.
But fear not, fans of regular Sunday sections, such as Homes, Books or Perspective. They will be included — along with Sunday’s puzzles, comics and other features — in an expanded weekend edition, which will be delivered to subscribers’ doors on Saturday.
Free Press publisher Bob Cox (shown with prototype) said the move is designed to combat falling revenues during the economic downturn of the past year, protect the quality of the newspaper and reposition it for the future. Thus far in 2009, advertising revenues are down about $1 million per month from 2008 levels, he said.
"We’re tired of cutting. We want to build something that’s good and strong for the future. (On7) is a new model for how the Free Press publishes in Winnipeg," he said.
Cox noted many papers around the world have simply ceased production on particular days — Montreal’s La Presse cut Sundays in July and the Victoria Times-Colonist eliminated its Monday edition a month earlier — while others have gone even further and closed up shop altogether in response to the global downturn.
Cox said he’s optimistic the reconfiguration of the weekend papers and resulting savings will eliminate any future need for any more staff layoffs. Two rounds of layoffs occurred earlier in the year.
"This move was made to protect the quality of the newspaper," he said.
The majority of the savings will come from not paying carriers on Sunday but Cox said he has heard anecdotal evidence that many of them are looking forward to having a day off once a week.
"It can be a real slog to deliver the paper every day all year and only get statutory holidays off," he said.
As for how the new On7 moniker was chosen, Cox said: "We didn’t want a tired, old newspaper name that has been used to death. We wanted to come up with something new and interesting that hasn’t been tried before."
FP units (FP.UN/TSX) fell 22 cents to $5.93 in light trading Thursday. They have been on a steady incline since bottoming out below $3 in the spring.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What is changing about the Free Press?
A: The Free Press will be delivering an enhanced Weekend Edition to subscribers on Saturday. No paper will be delivered on Sunday.
Q: What will happen to everything I read on Sunday?
A: The new Weekend Edition will include most of the features now available on Sunday — Homes, Books, Faith, Money Matters, in-depth features in a new section called FYI (feed your intellect), double horoscopes, puzzles and comics. There will be two days of reading in the Weekend Edition.
Q: What other changes are there?
A: The Free Press will publish a compact paper — On7 — that has breaking news, sports and entertainment, for sale in stores and street boxes on Sunday.
Q: When does it start?
A: The first Weekend Edition will be delivered Oct. 31. On7 will launch on Nov. 1.
Q: Why is the Free Press doing this?
A: The paper has seen revenues drop in the past year. We did not want to continue putting less and less in each paper. Consolidating the weekend editions will save money, keep the newspaper strong and protect its quality.
Q: How does this help the Free Press?
A: Delivery costs are the single biggest expense the Free Press has — more than all the reporters, editors and photographers who produce the news — and more than all the newsprint.
Q: What happens to Saturday-Sunday subscribers?
A: Anyone with a Saturday-Sunday subscription will get the Weekend Edition on their doorstep.
Q: What happens to prices?
A: The Weekend Edition will cost more — $2 at newsstands. Weekend subscribers will see prices adjusted according to whether they are Saturday-only, or Saturday-Sunday subscribers. Daily subscribers will not see a price decrease, but will not have any price increase this year and will have prices frozen for at least the next year.