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Postmedia shuts down Muskoka publications citing financial losses, low readership

Some of Postmedia's newspapers are displayed in this 2010 file photo.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Postmedia Network Canada Corp. has closed both of its publications in the Muskoka region, blaming financial losses and low readership.

What's Up Muskoka, a weekly, and Muskoka Magazine, published 10 times annually, have printed their last issues, a spokesperson said Thursday. Eleven full-time and 15 part-time staff are now out of a job, although Postmedia paid out severance packages, said vice-president of communications Phyllise Gelfand.

"They were fairly low-circulation, distributed free locally, and costly to produce," Ms. Gelfand said. "They weren't profitable and obviously it wasn't an easy decision, but it was a decision we had to make."

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Postmedia has owned the news outlets that served the Muskoka area, in Central Ontario, since last April when it bought 175 Sun Media newspapers and digital properties in a $316-million deal with Quebecor Inc. But Postmedia has suffered steep declines in revenue while it is weighed down by debt, and the combined pressure has led the company – Canada's largest newspaper chain – through years of deep cost cutting that have slashed more than $150-million in annual costs.

The last issue of What's Up Muskoka was published Wednesday, and the websites for both publications now redirect to the site for the Barrie Examiner, another Postmedia paper based south of the Muskoka region.

Ms. Gelfand said the closings were an "isolated" decision.

On Jan. 13, Postmedia will release its first-quarter results and hold its annual meeting of shareholders.

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