Quebec newspapers seek government help to ensure survival

Several newspaper publishers in Quebec have formed a coalition to demand that the provincial government establish a funding program to help them shift to digital.

The coalition says its members are all confronted with declining revenue, in part because advertising money has flowed toward social media platforms.

To help the print media, the coalition is asking the province to set up a five-year temporary financial assistance program for newspapers and to abolish the sales tax on newspapers sold.

It also seeks a refundable tax credit covering 40 per cent of the production costs and 50 per cent of their investments in digital platforms.

The coalition also wants a “significant increase” in the government budget for advertising in Quebec newspapers as they go through what Groupe Capitales Medias president and CEO Claude Gagnon calls a “profound re-examination” of their business models.

Brian Myles, the director of Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper, says the group wants the government to grant a “cultural exception” for the province’s print news industry, arguing daily and weekly newspapers are “vital to preserving a diversity of media voices” and enriching debate in the province.

He says newspapers are being “forced to invest in development of digital platforms” while managing a profound transformation in the industry.”

The coalition says it represents 146 newspapers, including Le Devoir and smaller papers operated by Groupe Capitales Médias, Hebdos Québec and TC Transcontinental.

The group points out that several other countries have programs to support their print media, including Finland, Norway, Sweden and France.

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