Postmedia to cut Sunday papers, lay off staff

Paul Godfrey, president and CEO of Postmedia Network. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)

Paul Godfrey, president and CEO of Postmedia Network. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:14 PM ET

Just as one of the richest men in the world hailed the future of newspapers, one of Canada's biggest media companies is stopping some of its presses.

Postmedia announced Monday it will cease publishing Sunday newspapers in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, and suspend the Monday edition of the National Post through the summer.

In its most recent quarterly results, the struggling media company reported a net loss of $11.1 million for the three months ended Feb. 29.

"Commodity news is an area where we cannot be competitive," read an internal memo sent Monday.

Management cited an ongoing loss of advertising revenues and competition from foreign-owned and -controlled digital media companies "who, without any regulation, are accessing Canadian audiences."

Postmedia, which laid off 25 news wire staff earlier this month, said it will also cut an unspecified number of jobs and very soon put in place a paywall (a charge for viewing its online content), something a number of news outlets are considering, and some -- notably the New York Times -- have already implemented.

Meanwhile, billionaire investor Warren Buffett thinks the rumours of newspapers' death have been greatly exaggerated, and he has begun reinvesting in them.

His company, Berkshire Hathaway, announced on May 17 that it would buy the majority of Media General Inc. for $142 million in cash, adding 63 daily and weekly newspapers to his holdings, which already include the Buffalo News, the Omaha World-Herald Co. and a stake in the Washington Post Co.

"I've loved newspapers all of my life -- and always will," Buffett wrote in a letter to the publishers and editors, according to the website of media analyst Jim Romenesko.

"I believe newspapers that intensively cover their communities will have a good future," wrote the mogul who was a delivery boy for four years in his youth.

He goes on to say that newspapers will not "move the needle" on his company's value, "But the papers are every bit as important to me -- and, for that matter, to society -- as other businesses we have purchased for many billions of dollars."

Postmedia Network Inc. owns 11 major Canadian daily newspapers and several community newspapers. It was formed in 2010, when the newspaper division of CanWest was purchased and renamed.

Sun Media continues to publish newspapers seven days a week in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, as well as in Winnipeg, Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal.