A Canadian media giant, Canwest Global Communications Corp., has fallen on hard times, so perhaps it shouldn't be a big surprise that it didn't show up in the list of large donors to the B.C. Liberals this year.
In 2005, Canwest contributed $50,000 to the party. But this year, there's no record of any donations. Recently, Canwest media outlets, particularly the Province newspaper, have been slapping the B.C. Liberals around over such issues as health cuts, the harmonized sales tax, and the B.C. Rail case.
But there's a rising publishing company that has stepped into the breach: Vancouver-based Glacier Media Inc.
On January 7, it handed over $100,000 to the B.C. Liberals, according to the party's disclosure to Elections B.C.
It owns community and daily papers across Western Canada, including the Whistler Question, the Squamish Chief, the Powell River Peak, the Nelson Daily News, and the Prince Rupert Daily News. It also owns Business in Vancouver, which is a weekly paper in Vancouver, as well as three papers in Ontario and Quebec.
The company bought Hollinger Inc. assets that weren't picked up by Canwest in 2000. Hollinger was previously controlled by Conrad Black and David Radler.
Glacier's chairman, Sam Grippo, used to run Hollinger's community newspapers in Metro Vancouver. Glacier, which keeps a relatively low profile, has remained profitable despite a downturn in newspaper advertising. For the six months ending June 30, it posted a profit of $11.1 million on revenues of $118 million.
It's worth keeping an eye on Glacier because it, along with Black Press and Torstar, could one day be in the running to buy Canwest assets.
The B.C. Liberals are certainly aware of Glacier. Sometimes, Premier Gordon Campbell can be a helpful friend.
In 2007, Campbell wrote a letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission endorsing CTVglobemedia's proposed takeover of CHUM, which owned the Citytv station in Vancouver.
Unfortunately for CTVgm, the CRTC rejected the company's application to take over five Citytv stations across Canada, which is part of the reason why the Vancouver outlet is now owned by Rogers.