Conspiracy to Commit Murder? Canadian Newspaper Trades and Closures, 2010-2017

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Marc Edge


Newspaper companies in both Eastern and Western Canada have engaged in anti-competitive behaviour since 2010 by exchanging titles, increasingly through trades, and then closing them to create more lucrative local monopolies. This phenomenon reached its height in late 2017 when the country’s two largest chains, Postmedia Network and Torstar Inc., traded 41 mostly Ontario titles and closed almost all of them. The chains claimed there was no collusion involved, but a Competition Bureau investigation reportedly found detailed memos and non-compete agreements. The British Columbia chains Black Press and Glacier Media also engaged in this type of consolidation in the first half of the decade without legal consequence. Including non-daily community newspapers, Black Press and Glacier Media closed or merged twenty-four of the thirty-three titles they exchanged from 2010-2014, or a competitor one of them already owned. While this would appear to be classic anti-competitive behaviour, their dealings went without investigation by the Competition Bureau. This points up the laxity of Canada’s antitrust laws in dealing with newspaper mergers and takeovers.

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