Canada's competition watchdog will allow Transcontinental to buy 74 community newspapers from Quebecor, but only if it sells off a large chunk of them.

Canada's Competition Bureau says it will approve a $75-million deal for Transcontinental Inc. to acquire 74 community newspapers from Quebecor Media if 34 of the total community publications in those markets are put up for sale to somebody else.

The move is aimed at "preserving competition in the sale of advertising in community newspapers in several areas in Quebec." Essentially, the bureau is asking Transcontinental to sell off a newspaper in any market where it now has more than one, in order to preserve competition.

"The Bureau understands that many communities are concerned and do not want to lose their local newspaper," commissioner John Pecman said.

"As many newspapers are in financial distress owing to the ongoing transformation of the community newspaper industry [this move] seeks to maintain competition in local markets through a sale process in regions where the parties strongly compete against one another."

Both boards have already signed off on the transaction, which was waiting for regulatory approval.