Who owns the community press?

Getting a truly accurate count of any large number of items can be daunting.

But gathering an accurate count of who owns what in the community newspaper business can be even more so.
In order to paint an accurate profile of the entire community newspaper industry, information was culled from a variety of sources. Research took into account information from CCNAÔÇÖs membership and community newspapers that do not belong to the association.

For the purposes of this profile, the term ÔÇ£community newspapersÔÇØ refers to newspapers that meet the general membership criteria for CCNA and its regional associations. Because several different sources were consulted for the information presented in this profile, some publications may be included which might not meet those same criteria.

Information was taken from CCNAÔÇÖs database, from information supplied by our seven regional associations, and from information supplied by major corporate community newspaper groups.

Information has also been included from our French-language counterpart, Les Hebdos du Qu├®bec. To arrive at the total number of newspapers in Canada and in each province, information was taken from BowdenÔÇÖs Media Monitoring database.

All information is reported as of Nov. 20, 2000, and was vetted through the various associations.

Doing a community newspaper ownership profile is difficult at the best of times. But this year saw community newspapers changing hands faster than Pok├®mon trading cards.

Criteria for the profile was changed to make a more accurate representation of the community newspaper industry. Shoppers and Pennysavers were removed from the newspapers counted, and Canadian Forces Base papers were integrated into their various associations and/or provinces. Various papers that did not meet the criteria for the profile but were included in 1999 were removed this year.

Examining the gross total numbers and comparing them with numbers from the 1999 profile can expose interesting trends, despite the change in criteria. Once-great community newspaper giants such as Thomson have faded from view while relative newcomers such as CanWest Global have exploded onto the scene. And whereas once the Hollinger-Southam group owned more community newspaper titles than anyone else in Canada (131), they now stand in third place with 54 titles (that number would be 59 using 1999 criteria), behind Quebecor-Bowes (135) and the B.C. Newspaper Group (60).

This change in corporate ownership grows more pronounced when examining CCNAÔÇÖs membership. Hollinger-Southam, once owning 70 CCNA member titles, now owns 33, putting it well behind Quebecor-Bowes (70), Metroland (53), and the B.C. Newspaper Group (52).

As of Nov. 20, seven corporate groups own 38 per cent of CCNA member newspapers. This is virtually the same as last year, except more spread out. In 1999, seven corporate groups owned 38 per cent of CCNA member newspapers.

The total number of CCNA member newspapers as of this profile is 677.

Clearly, corporate ownership has remained relatively stable in 2000, with most corporations making acquisitions from each other rather than buying up independents.

Media convergence has become a big issue, with media giants such as CanWest Global buying newspapers in markets where the company already dominates the television industry.

CCNA will continue to monitor ownership trends in the industry throughout the year.

With the addition of a new research position on staff, it is hoped that the database will be able to be updated more frequently.

Members can view this feature by going to CCNAÔÇÖs web site at www.communitynews.ca/ownership .