Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm getting awfully sick of the media's blackout of media financial news

Like this story.
What's it not telling you?
Teachers' owns 25% of CTVglobemedia, in partnership with Thomson and Torstar. Control of BCE will give Teachers 15% more of CTVglobemedia, making the Teachers' pension the biggest shareholder of one of Canada's largest and most powerful media companies. With Torstar's 20% stake of CTVglobemedia, Teachers and Torstar, if they get along, control the two most important newspapers in Canada, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Teachers alone will control the main telecom network, the most important satellite broadcast distribution system, a huge cell network, Sympatico's crappy but popular Internet provider service, the physical landline phone system, and will have enough share of the largest private TV network and the most powerful newspaper in the country to effectively call the shots.
I've got to give credit to those guys at Bell. They unloaded their stake in Nortel just before the company went south and used the money to buy a big chunk of the broadcast and print communications business when it was still fairly flush. Now they're unloading the mess onto Teachers, which has already burned through the Sun chain and Osprey, leaving a trail of shell newspapers and ill-served communities.
Meanwhile, the actual teachers are being boned. They just had their pensions de-indexed and their contribution rate is now 11%. Compare that to mine. University profs at Concordia pay 6%, the university pays 4%. But our pension fund isn't out there getting fleeced by every publishing company that comes by.
You won't read that in today's Star. And you'll be hard-pressed to find that Torstar stock has lost half its value this year.
So what's Teachers' private stake in CTVglobemedia worth? You can't find out. It's private. My guess is the equity value is down by at least as much as Torstar's 50%, but not as bad as Canwest's 85%. I'd wager it's closer to Canwest's number.
As for regular phone land-lines? Anyone know Morse Code?
Ah, well. There's always supply teaching, covering for the full-time staff off getting hip replacements.


Meanwhile, here's today's prize for stupidity
Kelly Toughill argues that newspapers should be off the stock exchanges, then uses layoffs at the CBC to try to make some kind of point about job cuts in journalism. Obviously, she believes the CBC's buncomb that the croaking of two of their foreign correspondents was a money, not a power, issue. I hadn't noticed when the CBC became influenced by market forces. And I haven't seen its stock listed, either.
If Prof. Toughill wants to make the point that Canadian newsrooms have suffered from the collapse of share prices, she'll have to do better. The only newspaper in Canada where there have been big cuts this year is the Toronto Star, but Toughill might be too much of the diplomat to mention that. Not that I think newsrooms aren't going to feel this, but why go off on a tangent involving a CBC pissing match?

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