Rogers sells flagship magazines Maclean’s, Chatelaine in deal with St. Joseph

In November Rogers Media sold its MoneySense personal finance website

The publisher of Toronto Life, Weddingbells and Fashion Magazine will acquire the last of Rogers Media’s consumer-oriented print and digital publications in a deal that seems at odds with the prevailing pessimism about traditional media.

Seven print and digital titles — including Maclean’s and the French and English versions of Chatelaine — will move from Rogers Media to St. Joseph Communications, a privately owned printing and publishing company based in Toronto.

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Tony Gagliano, the executive chairman and CEO of St. Joseph Communications, said he sees untapped opportunities with consumers and advertisers by adding the Rogers titles.

“What we have done — I think what we’re good at — is finding new revenue opportunities, where sometimes traditional advertising has fallen by the wayside,” Gagliano said Wednesday in an interview.

Its Toronto Life, he said, has had double-digit revenue growth “and more than that in profitability growth” for the last two years.

In part, that growth was fuelled by more special events and through a membership benefit program, he said.

“Because of that, the brand becomes very important to them. The more important the brand comes the stronger revenue opportunities we have, the stronger profitability opportunities we have,” Gagliano said.

“Data is very important to us as well,” he said. “That a new model … that is very different from a traditional advertising model.”

By analyzing the interests and behaviours of readers and audiences — a technique used by search engine and social media companies — traditional publishers and broadcasters are offering advertisers more targeted access to consumers.

By adding the Rogers titles to its own, St. Joseph will add data about a number of important market segments such as fashion and beauty, parenting, and current affairs.

St. Joseph’s deal with Rogers Media includes Today’s Parent and Hello! Canada, as well as the digital publications Flare and Canadian Business, which no longer have print editions, and a custom content business.

Gagliano also said he thinks there’s been too much emphasis on digital media over printed magazines, books and catalogues, which have the advantage of providing a selection of portable content without extensive internet searching.

“I think it’s going to come back in favour of print in time when people see the benefits of it,” he said. “I think there’s obviously room for both.”

The companies said Wednesday that St. Joseph will offer jobs to all current employees of Rogers Media Publishing. They account for about 125 full-time positions within Rogers Media, which has about 2,650 full-time employees overall

The transaction comes a year after Apple Computer Inc. acquired the Texture magazine app and service from Next Issue Media LLC, a partnership formed years earlier by Rogers Media, Time Inc., Hearst and Conde Nast.

In November, Rogers Media sold its MoneySense personal finance website to Ratehub, a Toronto-based company that owns an online comparison site for financial products

That was followed by months of unconfirmed reports that the media arm of Rogers Communications Inc. had been negotiating with various groups to sell its remaining consumer publications.

As with the other divestitures, financial terms of the Rogers-St. Joseph deal weren’t disclosed.

Rogers Media’s exit from magazine publishing comes as its parent — one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies — repositions its media business, which includes the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, the Sportsnet specialty TV channel as well as radio and local TV stations.

“It was a difficult decision, but one we believe is right as we accelerate our strategic vision and reposition our media business for the future,” Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media, said in a statement.

“We are extremely proud of these iconic magazine brands and all the employees who have delivered high-quality content for decades and helped shape Canadian culture and conversation.”

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

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