Québec Weekly Newspapers
The Québec press is characterized by the strong presence of weekly newspapers. They literally swarm in the Québécois media landscape, where in 1998 there were more than 200 of these publications. For this reason, Québéc weeklies do not go unnoticed. Their global circulation of five million copies per week almost matches the cumulative circulation of the 11 Québec dailies, which fluctuates between six and eight million copies each week. Québécois weekly newspapers generate annual sales figures of some 250 million dollars and employ more than 3000 people. According to a study done in April 1999 by le Centre d'études sur les médias, 81 percent of weekly newspaper titles in Québec are in French, 10 percent in English, and a few (8 percent) are bilingual.
Another characteristic feature of these publications is that they are essentially free of charge, their revenue depending almost entirely on advertising. In 1997, nearly 88 percent of the 206 unpaid weeklies listed in Québec were distributed free, most in French. As for the English press, the tradition of sales per individual copy appears deep-rooted; half of English language weeklies, (10 newspapers out of 21) are sold directly to readers.
Concentration of ownership in the weekly newspaper industry has increased over the last five years particularly with the appearance on the market of Canada's leading commercial printer, GTC Transcontinental. In fact, we can speak of a stranglehold on Québec weeklies by two national newspaper groups: Hebdos Transcontinental and Quebecor, which alone own almost half of all publications in the province. Today there are only some forty independent titles left in the sector.
Recent polls in Québéc confirm high readership loyalty to the weekly press. In 1997, more than 80 percent claimed that they read a weekly regularly (65 percent) or occasionally (16 percent).