Canada’s billionaire Desmarais family is cutting loose Montreal’s La Presse in a bid to take advantage of Ottawa’s new willingness to allow media companies to operate as charities, PaulChiasson of the Canadian Press reports.
Desmarais-controlled Power Corp. of Canada plans to make a $50-million contribution to La Presse and turn it into an independent, not-for-profit news organization. The change will allow the francophone publisher to seek new revenue sources, including government funding and donations.
The move comes as Canadian media organizations are facing threats to their business models as advertisers flee print and tech giants such as Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. increasingly control the flow of online traffic. La Presse made the boldest bet in the country on a daily tablet edition, investing millions in the process and eventually cutting the production of its newspaper altogether.