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Canada left with a single wire service

Canadian Press is once again the only wire service in Canada. This week it bought its only competitor, United Press Canada. ``UPC just couldn't attract enough customers at the right price,'' said Canadian Press president Keith Kincaid.

United Press Canada was 20 percent owned by United Press International in the United States and 80 percent by the Toronto Sun newspaper. It was set up by the Toronto Sun in January of 1979 and has consistently lost money. Neither the Sun nor Canadian Press would disclose the cost of the deal, but Mr. Kincaid confirmed it was less than a million dollars (Canadian).

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``The price we paid wasn't that great,'' Kincaid said, ``and we picked up a lot of assets such as teleprinters, modems, and cameras.''

The death knell for United Press Canada was sounded when two major newspapers, the Toronto Star -- the largest-circulation paper in Canada -- and the Montreal Gazette dropped the wire service. Earlier this week UPC bought out its 20 percent interest from United Press International and then sold the entire operation to Canadian Press.

Canadian Press is owned by 102 newspapers. It also serves more than 600 radio and television stations through its affiliate, Broadcast News. Another affiliate, Press News, serves the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and other large clients.

UPC provided service to only 90 newspaper and broadcast clients and had 54 employees, compared with 550 for Canadian Press. The UPC staff will be absorbed into the much larger CP operation.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the demise of UPC was that it never really offered strong competition to the heftier Canadian Press, according to newspaper publishers. UPC carried its own reports as well as those of UPI. CP, on the other hand, has more of its own reporters and staff and carries reports from Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

``We have to face the fact that it [UPC] has never been very effective competition,'' said Tom Kent, a journalist who headed a government commission on the newspaper industry.

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