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Infomart and Dialog Get Divorced
by
Posted On November 20, 2000
Infomart Dialog, Ltd., the Canadian information provider (http://www.infomart.ca), recently sent a notice to its Dialog customers saying that as of November 1, 2000 it would no longer support Dialog products and that Infomart Online users would not have access to Dialog databases.

Infomart Dialog, Ltd. was established in Canada in 1994 as a 50/50 joint venture between Dialog (then Knight Ridder Information, Inc.) and Southam, Inc., the Canadian newspaper publisher controlled by Hollinger, Inc. The divorce of this joint venture has reportedly been proceeding over the past year and is to be completed next month. According to one source, at least one major supplier of Canadian databases has not yet been officially notified.

The breakup was precipitated by new owners for both Dialog and Southam. Dialog is now part of the Thomson organization, also a Canadian-based corporation. Hollinger has just sold Southam (except for its trade magazines) and other assets to CanWest Global Communications Corp. (http://www.canwestglobal.com), owner of Canada's national television network, Global Television.

In July, CanWest announced its intention to acquire Hollinger's Canadian metropolitan newspapers, together with all of its Canadian Internet properties, most of the community publishing operations, and a 50-percent interest in the National Post. CanWest, which also has interests in specialty cable channels and radio networks, now reportedly has unparalleled national and local coverage in both electronic and print media, plus the canada.com network, a group of national and local Internet sites.

Undoubtedly, CanWest was not interested in the Dialog/Thomson joint venture, which served to compete with its own Web initiatives. The company plans to combine the CanWest and Hollinger brands and their content production resources. And, Thomson is now free to develop its electronic services without sharing revenue or decision making with Southam. The Web has indeed changed the information playing field, and providers and services alike are rethinking their aggregation and distribution arrangements.

CanWest has big plans for its multimedia convergence. Tom Strike, CanWest's chief operating officer, said: "This development will eventually change the ways that Canadians routinely access news, information, and entertainment; conduct business communications; and even the way people shop. This historic union of leaders in their sectors will position CanWest to walk confidently on the information highway, regardless of which delivery system eventually becomes dominant in the marketplace."

Rena Brickman is the general manager of Infomart Dialog, Ltd.—which will be changing its name. The company still offers the Infomart Online service. She noted that being owned by a single company would make things easier, and being part of CanWest could offer her organization considerable possibilities for growth. (For more information, contact Infomart at 800/668-9215.)

Canadian online researchers will now go directly to Dialog for its databases of information, which are especially important for its U.S. content, and for scientific and technical information. Dialog has been hiring additional Canadian staff for sales, marketing, and training, but will handle customer support out of its Cary, North Carolina, headquarters. Al Kennedy, formerly of Trans Union Canada, and previously with Dun & Bradstreet, is the new vice president and general manager of Dialog Canada. Kennedy stressed the positive aspects of the split, which he called amicable for the companies and seamless for Dialog customers: "We're back—bigger and better than ever and focused on the needs of information professionals in Canada."

To contact Dialog's billing office, call 888/809-6193; the Canadian Dialog sales office can be reached at 416/585-5298.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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