Free Press eyes end to Sunday edition

Management at the Winnipeg Free Press is considering cutting the Sunday edition.
The Winnipeg Free Press is considering dropping its Sunday edition for a smaller tabloid for sale in street boxes. ((CBC))
The Winnipeg Free Press is considering cutting its Sunday edition.

CBC News has learned the independently owned newspaper is looking at replacing the Sunday paper with a tabloid that would not be delivered to homes.

The tabloid, which would be half the size of the regular newspaper and save the company money, would be sold in newspaper boxes and convenience stores. The change could take place as early as Nov. 1, sources close to the Free Press said.

A prototype has been worked on for a month, and a special press run was held Friday, sources said.

The 40-page tabloid is tentatively called On 7. The change is still awaiting approval from the Free Press owners, FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership.

Paul McKie of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union, which represents workers at the Free Press, said the union hasn't been officially notified of the proposed change.

The Free Press has been looking to cut costs as advertising revenues continue to plummet for the industry. ((CBC))
"I've heard rumours, nothing official about it. I think it's outrageous, if it's true," he said. "If you are a seven-day home subscriber, you will have to go out and buy this product. I would be a little p-o'd at that."

McKie believes the proposed move is an effort to save more money. He said 11 people have been laid off in the circulation department in the past two weeks — seven customer service representatives and four district managers.

And there could be more coming, he said, citing "potential job loss for carriers as well as potentially reduced shifts for some other workers … possibly [in the] press room."

The paper has been looking to cut costs as advertising revenues in the industry continue to plummet.

In March, the Free Press eliminated eight jobs, affecting three journalists and two maintenance employees. Three other employees took early retirement.

That raised the total to 28 jobs trimmed from the newspaper since the beginning of the year, publisher Bob Cox told CBC News at the time. The latest cuts brings the total to 39.

The size of the newspaper was also scaled back in March as the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday editions were cut from four sections to three to save on newsprint.

At the time, Cox insisted the newspaper had not decided to pursue cutting back on the number of days it publishes. That wasn't to say the idea wouldn't be a possibility down the road, he said.

The Sunday move has been adopted by many other dailies in North America. In Chicago, the broadsheet Tribune has been publishing a similar Sunday tab for about a year, and it is outselling the rival Chicago Sun-Times, which publishes as a tabloid seven days a week.