Transcontinental is shutting down 20 weekly newspapers in Quebec and laying off 80 employees. 

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor 

Transcontinental is shutting down 20 weekly newspapers in Quebec and laying off 80 employees.

The announcement from the Montreal-based company follows the Competition Bureau’s approval of the sale of 14 community newspapers out of the 33 that were initially put up for sale. Those 14 weeklies were the only ones that found buyers. Three of those will continue to be published weekly while the remaining 11 moved online-only. 

The sale was required by the Competition Bureau to maintain healthy competition for advertising sales in local Quebec markets. The condition was part of a larger $75-million deal approved by the Competition Bureau in which Transcontinental agreed to buy 74 papers from its rival Quebecor last year.

"The bureau is satisfied that 14 newspapers will be purchased,” Commissioner of Competition John Pecman said in a press release. “However, I understand that some communities will be disappointed that no acceptable buyer was found for their community newspapers or that they are going to lose the paper edition of their newspaper. I remain convinced that the Bureau has done everything in its power to test the market to determine if there was a possible alternative to Transcontinental owning all the papers. Unfortunately, in some cases like this one, where many newspapers are in financial distress owing to the ongoing transformation of the community newspaper industry, the market dictates that there are limited alternatives."

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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.