Postmedia to lay off about 48 staff at classified call centre in Calgary

TORONTO – Postmedia Network Canada Corp. (TSX:PNC.B) plans to outsource its classified advertising call centre in Calgary, laying off most of the 48 employees, the company said Monday.

The owner of the National Post and various other big-city newspapers said the decision is part of its strategy to lower expenses and focus more on other priorities, which include its digital business.

Postmedia said its classified advertising will be managed through Media Sales Plus, a vendor based in Williamsville, N.Y.

Like most of the newspaper industry, Postmedia has been grappling with a years-long trend of readers and advertisers turning away from print publications to digital media, including websites.

The Canadian call centre will close in the spring or summer, Postmedia spokeswoman Phyllise Gelfand said in a telephone interview.

Over the past month, the company has been posting job openings for digital staff members, as part of a plan to focus more on readers who use tablets or other digital platforms like mobile phones to read news.

Also Monday, the Globe and Mail announced plans to offer buyouts for 18 positions across the media company that affect its editorial, advertising and circulation departments.

The Canadian Press is jointly owned by the parent companies of the Globe, the Toronto Star and Montreal La Presse.

Many Canadian newspapers have added paywalls or metered access to their websites, encouraging more readers to subscribe for access to their content.

Postmedia began a three-year plan to dramatically change its business model by setting up digital pay walls for its websites, ending the publication of many Sunday newspapers and selling its headquarters in Toronto.

In November, the company outsourced the production of the Calgary Herald to TC Transcontinental Printing and said it would also outsource contracts for the production of both the Vancouver Sun and the Province.

Last week, Postmedia reported a first-quarter loss of $11.8-million, weakened by lower advertising revenues and soaring costs to rework its operations. The loss was deeper than the profit of $6.7 million reported a year earlier when the costs of reworking its operations were significantly lower.

In a release Monday night, the Canadian Association of Journalists said it was saddened to hear of more job losses for journalists working in Canadian media outlets.

“These decisions could make it more challenging for these media companies to continue to provide the same quality of news and information their audiences have come to expect,” said CAJ president Hugo Rodrigues.