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Media bailout cash accounts for over a third of some newspapers' revenue, new financial statements show.
Among those whose revenues are subsidized by the taxpayer include the Winnipeg Free Press, which had initially spearheaded the campaign for bailout cash. The paper's second quarter financial statements show that of the $12 million garnered during the pandemic, 38 percent—or $4.5 million—came from the Trudeau government.
"While we believe swift actions taken to reduce and defer costs together with meaningful direct support by the federal government has resulted in us being in a relatively stable financial position currently, this could deteriorate quickly if the overall economy does not improve,” the statement reads.
"These measures have been called a bailout by some," said Free Press chair Bob Cox in 2019. "I would suggest this crowd knows very little about the business of operating a newspaper."
Free Press—owned by FP Newspaper Inc.—owns several papers in Manitoba, including the Brando Sun. the Carillon, and the Carberry News Express.
Among payments made to the Free Press chain include $175,000 in "Journalism Tax Credits," several $60,000-a year wages, and pandemic relief in the form of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy totalling $3.9 million, according to Blacklock's Reporter.
The Free Press, which has been published since 1872, has seen drastic declines in print ad sales during the pandemic. The paper lost 45 percent in print ad sales compared to this time last year, with Cox saying that the paper was facing the "most serious crisis [the Free Press] has faced in [its] history."