Turning the page: Timeline of Postmedia empire’s inception and struggles

TORONTO – Postmedia announced a proposal Thursday it hopes will reduce its massive debt load, which has been an albatross for the company in an era when it has seen advertising revenue and print circulation fall.

Here’s a look at the media empire’s inception and recent struggles as it tries to turn the page:

2000 — Canwest Global Communications Corp., then Canada’s second-largest private broadcaster, acquires the former Southam newspaper chain from Conrad Black’s Hollinger Inc. in a $3-billion deal.

2007 — Canwest takes on more assets and debt, partnering with Goldman Sachs Capital in a $2.3-billion deal to acquire specialty television producer Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc.

2010 — Canwest puts its newspaper division up for auction after going into bankruptcy protection. A group of creditors led by Paul Godfrey, then president and CEO of the National Post, and backed by New York hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management, win the bid in a $1.1-billion deal including $950 million in cash. The deal was structured to provide enough cash to pay off Canwest’s banks, which were owed about $925 million. The newspaper division is renamed Postmedia. “Our new name reflects both the strong legacy and the exciting future of media as we prepare to emerge as a new Canadian business,” Godfrey says.

Aug. 21, 2012 — Postmedia launches a metered paywall on its newspaper websites in a bid to counter lower income from advertising and print circulation.

Jan. 13, 2014 — About 48 staff are laid off at Postmedia’s classifieds call centre in Calgary as it outsources that work to cut costs.

Oct. 6, 2014 — Postmedia announces a $306 million deal to buy more than 170 media brands from Quebecor Media. The deal includes Sun Media newspapers in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and London, Ont., 25 smaller dailies, the free 24 Hours newspapers in Toronto and Vancouver, websites and more than 140 community newspapers, trade publications and magazines.

March 25, 2015 — The Competition Bureau approves the Quebecor deal, ruling that it is unlikely to substantially lessen or prevent competition. The bureau also cited the lack of a close rivalry between Postmedia’s broadsheet newspapers and Sun Media’s tabloid newspapers.

April 13, 2015 — The acquisition of Quebecor newspapers is completed, giving Postmedia 2,500 new employees along with the 170-plus new titles. The cash deal also increases Postmedia’s long-term debt to about $662 million.

Oct. 21, 2015 — Postmedia scraps its evening tablet editions of the Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette, citing a lack of interest from readers. It launched its first digital evening edition in May 2014 at the Citizen before expanding the project to other markets.

Oct. 22, 2015 — Postmedia reports a net loss of $263.4 million for the year ending Aug. 31, 2015, more than double the $107.5 million it lost the year before.

Jan. 13, 2016 — Postmedia posts a $4.2 million loss in its latest quarterly results. Revenue, not including the Quebecor acquisitions, was down 17.6 per cent in advertising, 6.7 per cent in print circulation, and 5.7 per cent in digital media. The company announces it is increasing its targeted cost-cutting from $50 million to $80 million in the face of continued losses. “Where we can remove duplication, we must,” Godfrey says. “And where we need to make tough choices for our chance for the future, we’ll do that too.”

Jan. 19, 2016 — Ninety people are laid off as Postmedia merges its broadsheet and tabloid newsrooms in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa.

July 7, 2016 — The company announces a plan it hopes will slash its debt of $648 million by nearly half. The proposal includes giving lenders 98 per cent of shares in Postmedia and a four-year extension to the repayment of $225 million in debt.