Nordstar Capital-owned Metroland Media Group (MMG) is transitioning its community publications to a digital-only model and exiting the flyer business as the company undertakes restructuring by seeking bankruptcy protection.
The company says the move is in response to “unsustainable financial losses stemming from the changing preferences of consumers and advertisers” and will be accompanied by just over 600 job losses, representing two-thirds of its staff, including about 70 journalists.
Due to its financial circumstances, a creditor update indicates the company does not have sufficient funds to pay termination or severance pay, however employees will have the opportunity to file a claim in the course of the restructuring process for money owed.
Among MMG’s 70+ community news brands are the Guelph Mercury Tribune, Oshawa This Week, the Welland Tribune, Vaughan Citizen, and the Brampton Guardian. MMG-owned regional daily newspapers, including the Hamilton Spectator, Peterborough Examiner, St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and Waterloo Region Record, will continue to serve their readers and communities in both print and digital formats, according to a company statement.
“The decision to restructure was necessitated by MMG’s financial position and was not taken lightly,” the statement continued. “The media industry continues to face existential challenges, largely because digital tech giants have used their dominant positions to take the vast majority of the advertising revenue in Canada. The decline of the print and flyer distribution business was significantly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the reduction of flyer usage both by readers and advertisers as a marketing vehicle. We believe this restructuring is essential to MMG’s long-term health and growth.”
Nordstar said it’s confident the restructuring will improve MMG’s financial situation to ensure sustainability moving forward.
“This news, delivered on International Democracy Day, is a total gut punch to Canadian journalism & the public’s right to know,” wrote the Canadian Association of Journalists, in a social media post in response to the news. “We know how this story goes: Less local journalism = less accountability = weaker democracy.”
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