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CRUSH intrigue in Edmonton with Metronews attempted ad placement

That would be C.R.U.S.H – as in the Canadians Rallying To Unseat Stephen Harper grassroots group. It seems the group thought it had an agreement with the Edmonton Metro edition to run its ad in that paper, but something weird took place. The press release I received below explains more, from CRUSH’s pespective:

C.R.U.S.H. and concerned Edmontonians organized to put an ad in the Thursday April 8th edition of the Metro (Edmonton) for the agreed upon price of $1000. The ad was approved by a regional publisher out of Calgary and organizers we were charged the entire amount. We assumed the ad was acceptable to Metro. However, at the last minute, and without justification, we were informed that the Metro had decided to pull the ad.

We are disappointed that we are stopped from voicing our political opinion in a democracy. C.R.U.S.H. made it clear to the publisher of the Metro that we had sent out press releases about the publication of the ad. Similar ads previously ran in the Toronto Star, the Hill Times (Ottawa), the Calgary Herald, the Comox Valley Echo News, and the Kitchener Waterloo Record.

The Metro is now willing to publish the ad so obviously its content is, in the Metro’s opinion, not actually too objectionable to print. However, the Metro is now refusing to offer the rate it originally quoted. The new price is a rate card rate at $2,500.

We are pleased that the Metro is now willing to publish the ad, but we do not understand the rate increase. And we find it unacceptable that the Metro is now unwilling to run the ad at the rate it quoted, in writing, which is the rate that it charged to one of our member’s credit card.

Since then, a couple of things have occurred. In a conversation with Joel Klebanoff, one of CRUSH’s main organizers, I’m told the reason given by the Metro News Alberta folks to him for refusing to run their ad was that the original price quoted to CRUSH was in error and too low. Yet, they apparently put that original price in writing, and took that amount from the CRUSH member’s credit card? Forgive me if I’m a bit uh.. sceptical at that explanation (maybe I’m inherently distrustful since it’s based in Harper’s home province). If I’m CRUSH, I’d be telling them to either run the ad at the original quoted price, or refund CRUSH’s money and get no ad revenue at all (and I’d be sending my lawyer at them if they refuse to refund).

(UPDATE: I’m now told the Metro Edmonton refunded the money).

2ndly, at their Facebook Page, this was said:

Seeing that (CRUSH) press release, a reputable paper (Hamilton Spectator) in a mid-market (Hamilton and the surrounding area that covers at least one Catch-22 riding has sent us an unsolicited offer to run a full-page ad, with colour, for us at a discounted price.

The offered discounted ad price from the Spectator is apparently still more then what CRUSH currently has in their bank account (I’m not sure if that would include any refunded money from Metro Edmonton if they pursue and get that back which they got refunded, but I presume if they get their money back from Metro Edmonton, they may try to find an alternate way of putting their ad in the Edmonton market, which is what the local chapter of CRUSH members in Edmonton donated for in the first place), so they’re asking for donations from their members or any supporters to help them meet that.

The link to their donation page is here, if you’re interested in helping them out.

(On a related topic, I hate to harp on this point yet again, but local media chains are in my opinion what CRUSH need to be going after. I’ve mentioned Osprey News before; well, I’ll be even more helpful this week and point out a link to what their papers are – both daily and non-daily – and more importantly what their advertising rates are. If CRUSH wants other suggestions, how about the Community Dailies in Sun Media?)

22 comments to CRUSH intrigue in Edmonton with Metronews attempted ad placement

  • @Shirley. We share with you the concern for our nation. As a C.R.U.S.H. administrator I can assure you that we will do everything to have an ad published in Edmonton. We will give a full announcement when it is to be placed. An issue like Metro’s unethical behaviour will not deter us.

  • shirley smith

    I am in Edmonton and a concerned citizen. I am not a member of CRUSH or CAPP but I personally know one of the local coordinators of the ad. I want to see the ad published because I am very concerned about the state of democracy in Canada under Stephen Harper. What Metro did with the CRUSH ad (CRUSH intrigue, April 10, 2010) is very disturbing. First, Metro approves of the CRUSH ad in writing and charges CRUSH the entire amount, knowing that press releases had been made about the ad. Then it pulls the ad; next it will run the ad at double the rate. I don’t believe that a business like Metro would be viable if this is just incompetence. I think Metro is attempting to undermine and discredit CRUSH. That is interference of free speech and our right to challenge a sitting government, both of which are fundamental rights of Canadians. This is very scary indeed.

  • Barb

    Last year there was an incident where pro life ads were not approved on Transit buses. Did you also have a problem with that?

  • Hunter Mars

    Torstar also owns a huge chunk of the Mop&Pail ( Globe and Mail ).
    Interesting article .
    I hope this is not standard operating procedure for Canadian news organizations .
    Although with seventy percent of media being owned by three ultra right-wing organizations it is of little surprise .

    • Mark Watson

      @Hunter Mars,
      Please note above where the TorStar owns Metroland Media, NOT METRO News.

      I also question your characterizing the ownership “by three ultra right wing organizations” – Which organizations are you referring to? Certainly NOT TorStar, which consistently reflects a more liberal point of view.

  • uijk

    It is possible that mistakes were made. Have you got the Edmonton Metro’s version of the events? If not this is very one sided. I do not believe that it is about angering Conservatives. That is just conspiracy thinking and this ad is of no importance to them. They did offer to print it at the correct price in the end. Stop complaining

    • Jon Pertwee

      @uijk, methinks you doth protest too much.

    • Mark Watson

      @uijk, Of course it is one-sided. Metro has likely been given the opportunity to comment but didn’t bother. What remains is based on the consumer complaint.

      As far as I can see, it isn’t necessarily a case of Conservative bias, but may be questionable business practice (‘bait and switch’ tactics)on the part of Edmonton Metro. They had offered a significant discount, accepted the ad and payment, then refused it unless full price was paid.

      That would be similar to selling you a car for one price and signing the contract, then when you went to pick it up finding out that they refused to honour the contract unless you paid thousands more. This practice used to be common-place, but tougher consumer protection laws were enacted to eliminate this. That is the case in Ontario – what about Alberta’s consumer protection laws?

      • Jon Pertwee

        @Mark Watson, bait and switch could also be interpreted as a conservative bias, bad business practice or not. The fact they haven’t explained themselves leaves it open. Which leaves us back where we were before uijk. It could be bad business practice, it could be conservative bias. So as far as I can see it’s all up to our own personal interpretations…

  • Re: pulling the ad and only agreeing to publish with pressure and then hiking the price.
    It appears that climate change is real in Canada-our political climate is such that people worry about angering Conservatives.
    I want my Canada back please.
    Oh, Canada-our home is changing fast…

  • The Left Hand

    Perhaps a few letters to the Editor of the Edmonton Metro, along with the Toronto Star (whom I believe through Torstar Corp owns the Metro Chain unless they’ve sold it) would be in order?

    • Maureen Sanders

      @The Left Hand, Have already sent a few to Edmonton Metro but thanks for the info re TStar owning the Metro Chain…

    • Mark Watson

      @The Left Hand,
      You are confusing Metro News with Metroland Media.

      Metro News does not share their corporate sponsorship, but Metroland admits to being owned by TorStar.

      To wit: “Metroland is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation.

      Torstar Corporation is a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Its businesses include the Star Media Group led by the Toronto Star, Canadas largest daily newspaper, and digital properties including thestar.com, toronto.com, Workopolis and Olive Canada Network; Metroland Media Group, publishers of community and daily newspapers in Ontario; and Harlequin Enterprises, a leading global publisher of womens fiction.”

      This information is from http://www.metroland.com/page/About

      • jeff

        @Mark Watson, While Sweden’s Metro News publishes commuter dailies around the world, Canada’s laws on media ownership prevent a foreign company from having a controlling interest in a media organization. So in Canada, Metro is a joint venture of Metroland/TorStar, Metro News and, last I checked (what with all their financial issues) CanWest.

  • Maureen Sanders

    Thanks for this article Scott and for the contact list. Edmonton Metro’s actions are pretty indefensible given that we already had an agreement with them. I completely agree with the local media/small newspapers approach. We can reach a lot of people that way too and at much lower rates.

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