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Postmedia reports deeper losses on continuing ad struggles

Some of Postmedia's newspapers are displayed in Ottawa in 2010. Postmedia Network Canada Corp. posted a $36-million loss in its 2013 fourth quarter.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. posted a $36-million loss in the last quarter, citing weakness in all of its major advertising categories.

The publisher of metropolitan newspapers has been restructuring for a year as it tries to get a handle on decreasing print revenue and increase its digital revenue. It's sold real estate, stopped printing Sunday editions in some markets, introduced paywalls for its newspapers and sought concessions from its workers amid layoffs and buyouts.

"This past year was one of accelerated transformation for our industry and our company," chief executive officer Paul Godfrey said in a statement.

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But the newspaper market continues to be difficult. Postmedia said print ad revenue decreased by 16 per cent in its fourth quarter and helped push the company to a $36-million loss, compared to $28-million a year ago, as revenues decreased 11 per cent to $169-million.

The company wants to cut its operating budget by $120-million by next year, and said it has already cut $82-million. Mr. Godfrey's challenge is that of all newspaper publishers: find a way to increase digital revenues to replace declining the print revenue.

The company's digital operations account for a greater share of revenue than in the past, but Mr. Godfrey said paywalls won't be enough to make up the differences as he alluded to further cuts.

"We were the first major publisher in Canada to move to an online pay model for our newspaper websites and while we're seeing audience uptake, we know that revenue from our website audiences will not make up for print revenue declines," he wrote in a memo.

"We are paying down debt from the proceeds of selling underutilized buildings, outsourcing non-core elements of our business and restructuring our operations to work more efficiently. All of these efforts are necessary, but none of them – either separately or combined – are enough, yet."

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