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So long, Suns? Frank Magazine says Postmedia will merge dailies in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa

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Margo Goodhand

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Frank Magazine, the subscriber-only Parliamentary and media tip sheet that is required reading for Ottawa insiders, reported today that Postmedia will merge its big-city dailies in Edmonton and Calgary into a single edition in each city this March.

However, Margo Goodhand, editor-in-chief of the Edmonton Journal, said this afternoon she does not believe the report, which she described as making no sense.

According to Ottawa-based Frank, in addition to merging the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun and the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun into a single newspaper in each city, the financially troubled Toronto-based media conglomerate will do the same thing with the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun. Frank said only that the source of its terse 46-word report is reliable. Postmedia Network Canada Corp. lost $263.4 million last year.

"I have heard nothing about this, nor do I believe it makes any sense," said Ms. Goodhand in response to an emailed query from AlbertaPolitics.ca about the Frank report. "The Vancouver Sun and the Province have coexisted/competed for 30 years with the same owners. Different readers, different advertisers. Why would Postmedia take a different tack in other markets?"

Postmedia announced the acquisition of Sun Media Ltd.'s daily newspapers and the rest of Sun's English-language community and trade publications from Quebecor Inc. for the fire-sale price of $316 million in the fall of 2014.

At that time, Postmedia promised that both Postmedia and Sun newspapers would continue to operate independently of one another in markets where they competed directly before the acquisition. Shareholders were told there would be "synergies," and that Postmedia expected to find $6 to $10 million in savings, mostly through unidentified shared services.

In early August, Ms. Goodhand confirmed reports that the Sun's advertising staff would be moved from their east-side location into the Journal building in downtown Edmonton this fall, a move that is now complete. She said at the time the Sun and Journal would have separate newsrooms and maintain "distinct print and digital brands."

Ms. Goodhand was responding at that time to questions from AlbertaPolitics.ca about the offer to Journal subscribers of a low-cost subscription to the Sunday edition of the Sun. Back in May 2012, Postmedia cancelled Sunday editions of the Journal, the Herald and the Citizen as a cost-cutting measure.

In August, AlbertaPolitics.ca asked (rhetorically): "How long before the Edmonton Sun and the Edmonton Journal are rolled into one newspaper? One year? Eighteen months? Two years?"

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