Quebec Liberals seek $1-million bailout for Métro Média

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QUEBEC — The Quebec Liberals are asking for the province to put up $1 million to keep media publisher Métro Média afloat.

The publisher announced a week ago it was suspending the operations of newspaper Métro and its more than 20 community newspapers in Montreal and Quebec City.

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There is an emergency and the minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, has shown a “lack of leadership” in this local media crisis, lamented Liberal MNA Michelle Setlakwe on Friday in an interview with The Canadian Press.

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“I am surprised that the government remains silent on the file,” she continued, maintaining that the health of local democracies is at stake. The province must act “very, very quickly,” because in two or three weeks it will be too late, she said.

“I expect much more concrete gestures. We let too much time pass. Think of the uncertainty in which employees are placed.”

The Liberals say the $1 million will help Métro Média complete its digital transformation over the next six months. The company had previously asked in vain for $500,000, but with the update of the expenses incurred and after discussions with the people from Métro Média, the Liberals concluded that $1 million is required.

“A million dollars to save local news, we think it’s worth it.”

In 2019, the government paid $5 million to Groupe Capitales Médias, owner of Le Soleil, Le Droit, La Tribune, Le Quotidien, Le Nouvelliste and La Voix de l’Est newspapers. After Capitales Médias went bankrupt, the newspapers were restructured under a co-operative called CN2i, the Coopérative nationale de l’information indépendante.

Reacting to the Liberals’ request, Lacombe said the news of Métro Média folding is unfortunate, and his ministry “will continue to support local newspapers, as it has done for several years.”

Métro Média was created in April 2018 with the acquisition of the daily Métro and 16 community newspapers from TC Transcontinental, some of which were a century old.

The company had about 100 employees, more than half of whom were unionized.

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