Conrad Black sees investment potential in Canadian newspapers

July 30, 2012  |  Canadian Press  |  Comments

Conrad Black says he sees investment potential in Canadian newspapers, sparking speculation that the former media baron wants to re-enter the media industry.

“There is a great premium to be placed on the editorial function and on the goodwill of a famous trademark like a respected newspaper,” Black told the Huffington Post Canada during an editorial board meeting.

“Any good title that’s grossly underpriced could be interesting.”

Black, 67, recently returned to Canada on a temporary resident permit after serving 37 months in a Florida prison for fraud and obstruction of justice while he was head of media giant Hollinger International, former owner of papers from Canada’s National Post to Israel’s Jerusalem Post.

Black said he isn’t actually in the market to buy a newspaper right now. He evaded questions about how he would transform a newspaper in order to make it profitable in the new digital landscape.

“It’s not that I don’t have an answer, but I’m not going to answer because it might be an untimely and excessive disclosure, and compromise what I might actually do,” he said.

It may be difficult for Black to re-enter the Canadian media industry, because it’s not known yet whether he will be allowed to stay in the country after his temporary permit expires. The media mogul renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to become a member of the British House of Lords.

In addition, tax laws only allow advertisers to get a full tax deduction when they purchase ad space in papers that are Canadian-owned. This is considered to be an important draw for advertisers.

Black, who doesn’t have a Canadian work permit, has said he plans to keep writing for Canadian media outlets, including the Huffington Post Canada and the National Post, the newspaper he founded more than a decade ago.

The National Post‘s parent company, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., is in the midst of a restructuring, axing Sunday editions and cutting jobs in an effort to offset declining ad revenue.

Formerly part of the Canwest media empire broken up in 2010, Postmedia owns the Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Province, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and others.

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