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Quebecor Group

Overview

This profile considers Montreal-based Quebecor.


It covers -

  • introduction
  • the group
  • evolution
  • the Toronto Sun and Sun Media
  • studies

Introduction

Quebecor claims to be the world's largest commercial printer. It has broadcast, magazine, book, newspaper publishing and other interests in Canada and 15 other countries, employing over 58,000 people at 160 plants and dwarfing rival Transcontinental.

The group encompasses 8 metropolitan dailies, 7 local dailies, 171 weeklies, magazines, other types of publications and book imprints. It accounts for around 22% of overall newspaper circulation in Canada. Up to 2001 Quebecor owned the French-language television network TQS, which covers 97.5% of the Québec broadcasting region, and has substantial cable tv and video rental operations.

The Quebecor corporate site is here.

Our chronology of the group is here.

The group

Quebecor Media, the media arm, embraces

  • Sun Media (the second-largest newspaper group in Canada, with 8 metropolitan dailies and over 180 community newspapers across Canada and in Florida)
  • news, arts and entertainment magazines
  • 12 publishing houses
  • Vidéotron, the largest cable TV provider in Quebec (and one of the largest ISPs in Canada)
  • TVA - commercial television network in Quebec
  • Netgraphe - operator of the CANOE group of web sites
  • Archambault - largest music chain in eastern Canada with 12 megastores and music/video distribution operations
  • the SuperClub Vidéotron video rentals/sales chain, with around 170 locations

Quebecor World, the printing arm, employs in 43,000 people in 16 countries in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

A more detailed indication of holdings is here.

Evolution

Quebecor was founded by Pierre Péladeau (1925-1997).

Péladeau studied philosophy at Université de Montréal and law at McGill University before publishing neighbourhood weeklies specializing in entertainment news - such as Le Journal de Rosemont and Nouvelles et potins - expanding into French-language version of US tabloids and printing. In 1964 he founded the daily Le Journal de Montréal, ultimately the second largest circulation paper in Canada, and established Quebecor during the following year. Expansion was driven by his printing operations and by upgrading of assets (with for example sale of most of the neighbourhood titles in 1961).

During the 1970s and 1980s Quebecor expanded its book and magazine publishing, printing (including BCE's directories arm) and newspaper publishing interests (including the shortlived Philadelphia Journal). In 1987 it acquired control of forest products group Donohue Inc (which had absorbed newsprint companies controlled the New York Times and Northcliffe), initially in partnership with Robert Maxwell. Donahue was sold to Abitibi-Consolidated in 2000, which later absorbed the Tribune's QUNO.

In the 1990s Quebecor significantly expanded its printing operations through acquisitions in the Americas and Europe (including Ringier America from Ringier), bought the TQS television network and in 1999 acquired Sun Media Corporation, which had been spun off by Rogers Communications in 1996. In 2000 it bought Groupe Vidéotron, selling the TQS television network to Cogeco in 2001 and buying Hachette Filipacchi Media's printing assets in Europe (inc printing and bindery facilities in France and Hachette's 50% ownership of Helio Charleroi in Belgium) during the following year.

The Toronto Sun

The Sun Media group - centred on the Toronto daily tabloid Sun - was Canada's largest publisher of English-language tabloid newspapers.

It traced its origins to the Toronto Sun, launched in 1971 following the closure of the Toronto Telegram. In 1973 the Sun launched the Sunday Sun. 1978 saw the amalgamation of Toronto Sun Holdings and Toronto Sun Publishing, followed by creation of Edmonton Sun Publishing as a partnership to publish the tabloid Edmonton Sun (which became wholly-owned in 1981) and acquisition of the Calgary Albertan in 1980 for C$1.3 million. The Albertan was subsequently relaunched as the Calgary Sun.

In 1982 magazine and broadcast conglomerate Maclean-Hunter acquired around 50% of Toronto Sun Publishing for C$55 million. Maclean later increased that stake, with Sun Publishing expanding into the US with its acquisition in 1983 of the Houston Post for US$100 million. In 1987 Sun Publishing acquired Maclean's weekly Financial Post and associated titles for C$46 million, with the Financial Post being relaunched as a daily. The Houston Post was sold to MediaNews for US$150 million shortly therafter. In 1988 Sun acquired the Ottawa Herald (relaunched as the daily Ottawa Sun).

By 1994 - when Sun's parent Maclean Hunter was acquired by Rogers - the five major Sun newspapers had daily sales of over 500,000 copies. Rogers sold its stake in Sun publishing to an MBO in 1996, with the new group becoming Sun Media. During 1998 Sun Media traded the Financial Post to Southam for Southam's Hamilton, Kitchener, Guelph and Cambridge newspapers. It bought the Hamilton Spectator, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Guelph Daily Mercury and Cambridge Reporter from Hollinger.

Competitor TorStar attempted a hostile takeover in 1998, with the group instead falling to Quebecor for C$983 million.

Studies

There is no major English-language study of Péladeau or Quebecor.

A profile is provided in Gordon Pitts' Kings of Convergence (Toronto: Doubleday 2002).