MONTREAL: One of North America's largest printers and publishers, Montreal-based Transcontinental Media, will next month pronounce the last rites over its hard-copy version of Canadian weekly magazine TV Guide, instead pinning future hopes on a reincarnated online entity.

The move is driven by an apparently irreversible decline in weekly sales, which since the 1980s have fallen steadily from around one million copies to their current level of 243,000.

Transcontinental president Natalie Larivière says of TV Guide: "This publication is different. It is time-sensitive. The internet is a platform that can allow us to do more updates and provide richer content."

She believes that much of the readership decline is attributable to viewers switching to on-screen program guides offered by satellite TV and digital cable services, both of which are more widely used in Canada than the USA.

The Guide's online version will be free to users, the company relying instead on advertising sales.

However, the Canadian strategy will not affect its larger US counterpart, published stateside by NewsCorp-controlled Gemstar-TV Guide International. Although it too is shedding readers, a company spokeswoman said it has no plans to follow suit.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff