Black Press purchases Island newspapers from Glacier Media

The Vancouver Island Newspaper Group, which publishes eight weekly and daily newspapers north of the Malahat, has been sold by Glacier Media Inc. to Black Press.

Glacier is keeping the  Times Colonist, which will be its only newspaper on Vancouver Island.

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The Island papers going to Black Press are the Nanaimo Daily News, the Harbour City Star in Nanaimo, the Alberni Valley Times, the Cowichan Valley Citizen, the Parksville Oceanside Star, the Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News, the Comox Valley Echo, and the Campbell River Courier Islander. The agreement includes a press in Nanaimo. The two companies have also done deals affecting newspapers in the Lower Mainland.

Black Press is buying Glacier’s Surrey Now, the Langley Advance, the Maple Ridge Times, and related publications and digital properties. Glacier is buying from Black Press the Tri-Cities News, the Burnaby News Leader, the Richmond Review, the New Westminster News Leader, as well as related publications and digital properties.

Glacier is planning to keep its new titles, Jonathon Kennedy, company president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday.

“The transaction is consistent with our strategy to sell off some non-core assets and use the cash to pay down debt,” he said. The goal is to strengthen Glacier’s Lower Mainland operations as the company focuses on high-growth opportunities, he said.

Glacier will enhance business information operations by providing richer data and information, related analytics, and business and market intelligence, Kennedy said. This includes delivering more comprehensive and sophisticated marketing solutions.

“We are focusing on high-growth areas in business information, including agriculture, energy, mining, real estate, environmental risk management, and financial information.”  These services include, for example, the Daily Oil Bulletin in Calgary.

“As long as we continue to provide high-quality products like the Times Colonist, and continue to transform and evolve those businesses, there are many growth opportunities despite some of the challenges that we are facing.”

Black Press already owns several newspapers on the Island, including Monday Magazine and the Victoria, Oak Bay, and Saanich News, the Peninsula News Review, the Goldstream News Gazette, the Sooke News Mirror and others north of the Malahat.

Black Press founder David Black said it is “premature” to talk about whether newspapers will be consolidated in communities where his company will have more than one title.

Black Press takes over operations in Courtenay-Comox, Ucluelet/Tofino and Parksville on Jan. 1. All other publications will change hands on March 2.

“I think we hope to keep titles alive in many of the markets and find a way to streamline things in a way that we can keep more than one title,” Black said. “We are not assuming that we will be closing one paper in each market by any means.”

Options could include switching to one day a week publication from two, he said. “There are different ways to play it and the objective, of course, is to end up with really good community newspapers that everybody in town wants to read.”

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