Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Longueuil asks Québec to help me’ local slides

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Catherine Fournier, mayor of Longueuil. (Archive photo)

  • Noémie Laplante (View profile)Noémie Laplante

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The plan to promote local media, which aims to help them, was presented Friday by the mayor of Longueuil. To counter the distribution issue as Publisac ends, Catherine Fournier asks Quebec to intervene with Canada Post.

I call today on Canada Post to distribute local newspapers free of charge through its existing distribution network and on the federal government to require it from the Crown corporation , announced the mayor of Longueuil.

In the opinion of Catherine Fournier, this is a crucial contribution to ensuring the survival of local newspapers – particularly Le Courrier du Sudand La Relèvein Longueuil – following Transcontinental's decision to end Publisac in mid-March on the South Shore.

Local media will have to turn to Canada Post for the distribution of their copies. However, they will have to pay four times more, exacerbating existing difficulties in the midst of a media crisis.

Obviously, the budget of media like Gravité [Media] has not quadrupled in recent years, underlined the mayor of Longueuil at a press conference.

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The City of Longueuil alone will not solve the media problem […], but we are committed to doing this work, announced the mayor.

[The City] does not have the means to ensure the distribution [of local newspapers] to its 250,000 citizens, which is why the City is aiming to establish drop boxes for local newspapers in certain municipal buildings. I invite merchants to contact us, advised Catherine Fournier at a press conference.

The contribution of Canada Post is the dream of Julie Voyer, president and founder of Gravité Média, since this storm for the withdrawal of Publisac, she explains.

Gravité Média owns four regional newspapers:Le Soleil de Châteauguay, La Relève, Le Courrier du Sud and the Journal de Saint-François. The company distributes a total of 110,000 copies each week, according to the CEO.

It's utopian to think that we can pass the bill on to our clients and that from now on to continue [it] would have to increase the price four times for their paper advertisements, said Julie Voyer.

At this moment, newspapers are available free to residents and accessible on the web: People are not ready to pay to have a subscription to a local newspaper.

The plan presented by the mayor is broken down into three areas of intervention: dissemination and distribution, financing, as well as content and promotion.

Regarding financing, the City of Longueuil is committed to investing at least 50% of the City's advertising budget in local media. Also, it intends to set up an annual campaign to promote the media led by the Communications and Public Affairs Department to remind people of the crucial role, mentioned Catherine Fournier.

The actions proposed in the plan are the result of collaboration with representatives of the local media concerned. The City of Longueuil is also committed to creating a consultation table with representatives of the media and the City.

The mayor affirmed that the issue was definitely discussed with elected officials, between the cities of Saint-Bruno, Saint-Lambert, Laval.

The mayor of Boucherville, Jean Martel, who has already spoken out on the value of local media on several occasions, reiterated in an interview with Radio-Canada: Somewhere, democracy without media, [there] is none […] What price are we prepared to pay for our democracy?

According to Jean Martel, we cannot rely only on the online press to keep our population informed: In Boucherville, there are many seniors [… ] there is still a segment of the population who reads that.

Federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Jean-Yves Duclos, also demonstrated an openness, according to Catherine Fournier.

The minister's office also made a statement on the matter on Friday. By emphasizing the sharing of information from reliable sources, and the distribution of local media for our democracy, the minister's office affirmed that Minister Duclos was discussing with Canada Post to find solutions for the distribution of local newspapers. He and Mayor Catherine Fournier met last month to discuss this issue and the importance of saving weeklies.

The carrier voice of the Bloc Québécois in matters of Heritage, Culture and Communications, Martin Champoux, as well as Public Services and Supplies, Julie Vignola, called on the federal government to intervene urgently to come to the aid of local and regional weeklies.

Due to the already demanding pressure on local newspapers and the end of Publisac, the Bloc Québécois calls on the government to put pressure on Canada Post so that “it takes over the distribution of local and regional newspapers at a preferential rate, while respecting the working conditions of postmen and women,” declared Martin Champoux.

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