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For several months, rumours have been rampant in the publishing industry that the demise of Saturday Night magazine was imminent.

As preposterous as a rumour of losing the vaulted journal may seem, from a financial perspective it did seem possible that the 112-year-old magazine had long ago exhausted its life expectancy.

After all, it has been a money-loser for owner Conrad Black since his company, Hollinger Inc., bought the magazine in 1987.

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The losses were understandable during the recession of the early 1990s, when many Canadian magazines were losing money.

But remarkably, during the past few years, when many Canadian magazines have seen record profits, Saturday Night has never really recovered.

At the core of the problem is advertising revenue, which the magazine has had an especially a hard time generating.

According to industry sources, revenue at the magazine peaked at just over $6-million in 1996.

And, they say, despite a recent redesign to freshen the magazine's look coupled with the hiring of a fresh new editor Paul Tough, revenue fell to a new low of just $4.2-million last year.

But now Tertius hears a salvage plan is in the works.

Black's people would apparently ideally like to reformat the organ into a weekly magazine that would be stuffed into the Saturday edition of another national newspaper, whose name escapes us.

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The move would effectively return the magazine to its roots of the late 1880s, when the magazine was published once a week and went on sale at 6 p.m. on Saturday night (hence the name).

But the financial sense of such a move is hard to fathom. There are many ways of trying to stop a monthly magazine from hemorrhaging money, but putting it out weekly instead is surely not one of them.

There are many subplots to the drama.

One is the fate of editor Tough, who, as Tertius has already reported, is bearing the brunt of Black's wrath for the magazine's malaise.

Another is what the other newspaper plans to do with its monthly business magazine, whose recent redesign fell as flat as a copy of Burke's Peerage under the Blacks' Christmas tree.

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