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From 1996: Who will buy the Sun chain? (In the end, the Sun)

Somebody would want to buy the money-making Toronto Sun and its various print properties, but who exactly would that be?

Rogers Communications put its stake in Toronto tabloid and chain of papers up for sale in 1996

Who will buy the Toronto Sun?

26 years ago
2:33
In May 1996, Rogers decided to sell the controlling stake it held in the Toronto Sun newspaper chain. 2:33

Somebody would want to buy the money-making Toronto Sun and its various print properties, but who exactly would that be?

That was the question The National was exploring in 1996, a time when many Canadian newspapers had seen changing ownership and continued consolidation in the industry.

At that point, the Canadian newspaper industry was dominated by a handful of big players that included Thomson, Southam and Hollinger, as well as the Sun chain.

On May 7, 1996, Rogers Communications put its majority stake in the Sun chain of newspapers up for sale.

'Circumstances change'

Toronto Sun publisher Paul Godfrey said the tabloid newspaper had made a profit in every year that it had been in existence. (The National/CBC Archives)

Paul Godfrey, the Toronto Sun publisher, said changing business priorities at Rogers had led to the sale situation.

"Circumstances do change in business. Circumstances change overnight, never mind in weeks," he said, when discussing the news about the newspaper chain.

The National said Rogers needed cash for investing in its cable business, which motivated the company to divest itself of its Sun stake.

Godfrey said the nearly 25-year-old Toronto tabloid had produced a profit in every year of its existence and he predicted that trend would continue.

Not the first such change...

The Toronto Sun's Bob MacDonald said he'd never experienced any pressure on his work as a result of prior ownership changes at the newspaper. (The National/CBC Archives)

Sun reporter Bob MacDonald had been with the paper since its 1971 launch. He did not seem concerned about another ownership change or its effect on his work, having seen several take place over the years.

"I've never had anybody approach me, ever, and say: 'You've got to write something this way or that way,'" he told The National.

Reporter Reg Sherren said it was rumoured that "as many as a dozen companies" had their eye on the Sun chain.

But in the end, it was Sun management that would manage to take control of the newspaper chain in a leveraged bid announced in August and later approved by shareholders.

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