December 16, 2008 / 4:09 PM / in 9 years

Sun Media to cut 600 jobs

TORONTO (Reuters) - Quebecor Inc’s Sun Media newspaper unit said on Tuesday it will cut 600 jobs because of the economic downturn and problems in the print media industry.

The cuts represent 10 percent of the work force of Canada’s biggest newspaper publisher, not counting mail room employees. Sun Media said it expects the move to lead to restructuring costs of about C$14 million ($11.5 million).

The layoffs are the latest in Canada’s media industry. Last month, Canwest Global Communications Corp, Canada’s biggest media company, cut 210 workers at its broadcast operations and another 350 at its publishing division.

Privately held television broadcaster and Canwest rival CTV Inc cut 105 jobs in November. Torstar Corp cut 270 jobs across its stable of urban and regional newspapers in the first nine months of the year.

Media companies rely on advertising revenue and as the economy slows, many advertisers are expected to trim their spending. This means lower revenue for the media groups.

“The speed at which the current economic environment is deteriorating forces us to make difficult decisions at this time of the year,” Quebecor Chief Executive Pierre Karl Peladeau said in a statement.

“The news industry is being revolutionized and we have to adapt if we want to remain an industry leader.”

Sun Media has 43 paid-circulation and free dailies in Canada’s biggest urban markets and more than 200 community newspapers, shopping guides and other specialty publications.

It said that aside from the faltering economy and rising costs, fundamental changes within the newspaper industry made the cuts necessary. These include the growing availability of free access to media, readers’ migration to the Internet, as well as “the advent of real-time information and digital transferability,” it said.

“We all know that advertising revenue is declining, so some of this is understandable,” said Peter Murdoch, media vice-president at the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union, Canada’s largest media union.

However, he said that since the layoffs are hitting almost all major Canadian media outlets, “we are seeing an erosion of the news and information coming to Canadians”.

Murdoch said media companies have yet to figure out a consistent, profitable way to use the Internet to make money from the content that they produce.

Quebecor shares were down 6 Canadian cents at C$14.79 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

($1=$1.22 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway

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