Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Community Support and Patient Investors Rated Vital for Media Employee Buyouts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Community Support and Patient Investors Rated Vital for Media Employee Buyouts

Article excerpt

'Challenges' loom for media employee buyouts


CALGARY - An architect of one of the few successful media employee buyouts in Canada says knowing the market and enlisting help from sympathetic investors have been key to the survival of CHEK TV since it was saved from closing in 2009.

Still, eight years later, the independent Victoria TV station has yet to pay out a dividend -- and, while staff kept their jobs, they have also had to accept hardships like wage rollbacks to prevent layoffs, said Rob Germain, CHEK's news director and a board member.

He gave an interview as employees of the Prince Albert Daily Herald in Saskatchewan continue to negotiate to buy their 134-year-old newspaper from owner Star News Publishing Inc. of Alberta.

"I certainly admire them and if they feel there's a market for it, then that's half the battle -- knowing there's a demand for your product is the most important of all," Germain said when asked what advice he would provide.

The Daily Herald buyout was announced in December but publisher Donna Pfeil said it has not yet been finalized, although both the employees and Star News president Roger Holmes want it to go through.

She said advertisers and readers in Prince Albert have been vocal in their support of the local newspaper.

"We're still in negotiation. It's kind of a waiting game," she said, adding she can't say how much the buyout will cost, nor how the ownership group will be structured or whether outside investors will be invited in.

"We're not giving out too much information," Pfeil said. "Every employee is contributing what they can contribute to have the paper continue and move forward."

Holmes confirmed the deal isn't done but wouldn't give further comment.

Star News has said it intends to sell or close all of its Saskatchewan newspapers. Last month, it shut down the daily Moose Jaw Times-Herald, one of 13 Saskatchewan titles it bought from Transcontinental Inc. in 2016.

Germain said CHEK, founded in 1956, was included in a list of TV stations that then-owner Canwest Global Communications Corp. …

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