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Media death watch grows serious

North American media, especially Canada's, are gasping for breath at the end of February. They may be on respirators by the end of March.

In the US, Friday marks the last day for Colorado's oldest paper, the Rocky Mountain News. Gannett, the largest American newspaper publisher, has seen Moody's downgrade its stock to junk.

And the New York Times, despite its $1.1 billion in debt, says it at least has enough money to survive 2009.

Here at home Torstar, owner of Canada's biggest newspaper, announced an administrative shakeup on Thursday. The company had a net loss of $180 million last year. Its net debt grew to $627 million. Torstar stock closed Thursday down 34 cents to $6.05.

Meanwhile, The Star reported that CBC President Hubert Lacroix is ready to sell some assets to survive the sudden fall in advertising revenues.

Unimpressed, The Secrets of Vancouver, a right-wing blog, says: "Harper should tell [the CBC] to go to hell...Let's have a referendum on the CBC - decide if they are even relevant anymore. CTV and Global seem to be getting all the viewers."

But with shares of CanWest Global at 34 cents (up 2 cents on the day), Canadian viewers may soon have little to watch except video clips on Al Jazeera English.

Correction: Inaccurate information about CTV Globemedia appeared in the original version of this post, and has now been removed. Apologies for the error, and thanks for the correction.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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