Black Press acquires more Central Alberta publications

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Black Press Group Ltd. has expanded its newspaper holdings in Central Alberta.

The Victoria-based company, which owns the Red Deer Advocate and community papers in Central Alberta and beyond, announced on Thursday that it has purchased the Sylvan Lake News and Eckville Echo.

The two weekly newspapers were owned by Barry and Darlene Hibbert.

“This is a strong addition to our Central Alberta operations,” said Fred Gorman, president of Black Press’s Prairie Division and publisher of the Advocate.

“Barry and Darlene have built up a tremendous business in a very desirable market.”

Barry Hibbert will continue to serve as publisher of the Sylvan Lake News and Eckville Echo, both of which are published on Fridays.

Gorman said Hibbert and his staff will bring valuable skills and knowledge to the Black Press Group.

“We have always had a good working relationship with the Red Deer Advocate and the sale is simply an extension of that,” said Hibbert.

“We are looking forward to being able to benefit from the added resources that Black Press can bring into play.

“It will enable us to improve our products in many ways.”

The Sylvan Lake News and Eckville Echo are already printed on the Red Deer Advocate’s presses.

Founded in 1935, the Sylvan Lake News produces 7,350 copies weekly.

These are distributed in the town of Sylvan Lake and surrounding region.

The Eckville Echo, which has been publishing since 1997, delivers 2,500 copies weekly. These go to residents of Eckville and the outlying area every week.

The combined circulation area of the two newspapers extends from just west of Red Deer to Rocky Mountain House, and from Spruce View to north of Leslieville.

Black Press also acquired Discover Sylvan Lake, an annual tourist publication also owned by the Hibberts, as part of the deal.

The terms of the overall agreement were not disclosed.

With the addition of the Sylvan Lake News and Eckville Echo, Black Press Group has nine community newspapers in Central Alberta. The others are the Advocate, Red Deer Express, Stettler Independent, Ponoka News, Rimbey Review, Bashaw Star and Castor Advance.

The company also produces real estate, farm and regional publications, including Central Alberta Life.

“Black Press recognizes the strength of the Central Alberta economy, and to add Sylvan Lake and Eckville is a great opportunity to expand our business presence,” said Gorman.

Black Press also owns approximately 150 community publications in British Columbia and Washington.

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