L'Acadie Nouvelle seeks government help

New Brunswick's only French-language daily newspaper is asking for financial help from the provincial government as it struggles with the economic slowdown.

New Brunswick's only French-language daily newspaper is asking for financial help from the provincial government as it struggles with the economic slowdown.

L'Acadie Nouvelle, the Caraquet-based French newspaper, is the only independent daily newspaper in New Brunswick. 

Aside from the French daily, New Brunswick's media landscape is dominated by the Irving media empire, which controls three English dailies, a group of weekly newspapers and the French-language L'Etoile newspaper.

Francis Sonier, the newspaper's editor, explained the newspaper's financial situation in a column in Thursday's newspaper.

Sonier said the economic climate has forced L'Acadie Nouvelle to review its operations but he said the newspaper will survive.

"We are the only one, the only francophone daily newspaper in the province. We are very important. That's very important for the francophones in New Brunswick," Sonier said in an interview.

Radio-Canada reported this week the newspaper had asked for financial help from the provincial government.

The newspaper has a trust account that was initially set up with help from the provincial government to help L'Acadie Nouvelle offset distribution costs. The interest made off of that trust account normally generates between $600,000 to $700,000 a year.

But Radio-Canada reported last year the trust account generated only $212,000 for the newspaper.

With a drop in revenue from the trust account and a large debt leftover from the purchase of a new printing press, the media company went to the provincial government for financial help.

Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud told Radio-Canada the provincial government would examine the media company's request.

"I must ensure that if a financial contribution, that taxpayer money is used properly, " Robichaud said.

Sonier said in his column that L'Acadie Nouvelle has 60,000 daily readers.

He also confirmed the media company cut five employees and will not fill two other vacancies.

The employees have also agreed to reduced working hours, amounting to 30 minutes less a day.

Last winter, the media company announced it was restructuring its operations under the name Acadie Media. The company will have three divisions: L'Acadie Nouvelle, the website CapAcadie.com and its printing operation Acadie Presse.

Despite the financial troubles, Sonier wrote in his column that the French newspaper would attempt to improve its product.

The editor made a pitch to its readers to continue to subscribe if they wanted to see the independent paper continue in the province.