The head of Canada’s largest newspaper empire says the company is accelerating its intentions to cut costs as it continues to bleed advertising, print circulation and digital media revenue.

By Ian Bickis, for the Canadian Press

The head of Canada’s largest newspaper empire says the company is accelerating its intentions to cut costs as it continues to bleed advertising, print circulation and digital media revenue.

“There’s no doubt our industry continues to face significant pressures from the shifting competitive landscape and the changing behaviour and appetite of audiences,” said Paul Godfrey, chief executive of Postmedia Network Canada Corp. (TSX:PNC.B), in an investor call Wednesday.

Godfrey said the company, which owns the National Post, the Toronto Sun and other major Canadian newspapers, is now aiming for cost reductions of $80 million by mid-2017 — up from its previous goal of $50 million in cuts by the end of 2017.

Postmedia says it’s on track to meet the $50-million target by this May 31, the end of its fiscal 2016 third quarter.

The company is still working through how it will achieve the additional cost savings, Godfrey said, but he added it’s already made cuts that should result in $32 million in annual savings.

“Across every function and region at Postmedia, we have had to make difficult decisions with respect to resources and people,” said Godfrey.

The cuts come as the company continues to struggle with decreasing revenue, as well as $671 million in debt brought on in part through the acquisition of Quebecor’s Sun Media newspapers last year.

The acquisition helped push up the combined company’s revenue to $251.1 million in the first quarter ending Nov. 30 — up from $169.5 million for Postmedia alone.

But it didn’t keep the company out of the red, with the company reporting a net loss of $4.1 million in the quarter.

Excluding the impact of the Sun acquisition, Postmedia revenue for the quarter was $147.4 million, a 13.1 per cent decrease from the same period last year.

Revenue was down across all key areas, with Postmedia’s stand-alone print advertising revenue down by 17.6 per cent or $16.4 million, print circulation revenue down 6.7 per cent or $3.2 million, and revenue from digital media down 5.7 per cent or $1.4 million.

Godfrey said low oil prices were taking a bite, especially at its Calgary and Edmonton papers, but overall it was difficult to single out reasons for the declining revenues.

He said that the company will continue to make necessary cuts as its transformation continues.

“Where we can remove duplication, we must. Where we can nurture green shoots, we will. And where we need to make tough choices for our chance for the future, we’ll do that too,” said Godfrey.

This story is republished with the permission of Canadian Press.