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Postmedia and Torstar deal results in "largest closure of newspapers on single day in Canadian history"

REUTERS/Russell Boyce

This statement was originally published on on 1 December 2017.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned by the deal between Canada's two largest newspaper publishers, Postmedia and Torstar, which have decided to swap more than forty local newspapers with each other, and subsequently shut down most of these newly acquired newspapers in regions where they compete with other existing publications.

The deal appears to be a move to consolidate newspapers into geographic clusters in order to eliminate the cost of competitive print advertising, and comes directly after a decision by the government to stop offering additional funding for news outlets as part of its new cultural policy. Both Postmedia and Torstar stated that the deal will result in cost savings. However, by closing these newspapers, Postmedia and Torstar will terminate almost 300 jobs, and leave dozens of communities with a single newspaper.

"By shutting down more than forty independent newspapers, this development will cause an enormous shift in news coverage in Canada and seriously compromise media pluralism," said Margaux Ewen, RSF North America Executive Director. "This deal leaves three small cities without a daily newspaper, and more communities without weekly papers. At a time where press freedom in Canada is under threat, it is imperative that independent and diverse news sources remain alive and active and that Canada's citizens have adequate access to a plurality of coverage."

Canada is ranked 22 out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index after falling 14 places in the past two years.

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