Masthead News Archives
February 2005

February 24, 2005
Magazines should thrive in fragmenting market
TORONTO—M2 Universal president Hugh Dow, one of Canada’s most prominent media planners, predicts that most if not all future magazine launches will be niche titles. “They are right in tune with this” move to specialization,” he said yesterday during his keynote address to a seminar on Media Effectiveness: Catching the attention of your target audience in a media multi-tasking age. “We know the challenges that Time magazine is facing, and the challenge that Maclean’s magazine is facing,” he said, referring to the mass-audience newsweeklies that have seen their subscriber bases and ad lineage figures drop by double digits during the past five years. On the bright side, readership numbers for the magazine medium overall show “steady and constant” growth according to PMB data, unlike newspapers, where 18+ readership in English Canada was down 16% from 1996 to 2004. Dow said that when CanWest’s new commuter daily, the Dose, launches this spring, it will represent the seventh daily paper in the Toronto market, along with The Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe and Mail, National Post and two other commuter tabs, 24 Hours and Metro. “This is insanity,” he said of the crowded market. “There will be heavy casualties…and some major red ink appearing somewhere.”

February 22, 2005
Trio to launch bimonthly on victuals
TORONTO—People have a real appetite for behind-the-scenes stories about their food, says publisher Gene Shannon who, with business partners Dick Snyder and Tom Gierasimczuk, is preparing to dish up a new food and drink mag for urban epicures.City Bites will launch next month. About 25,000 copies of the newsprint half-tab (8 1/8” x 10 1/2”) bimonthly will be distributed through altweekly news tabloid NOW magazine; 5,000 copies will also be available at food-oriented businesses around the city. “The magazine is geared towards people interested in the food scene, people who put their money where their mouth is,” says Shannon, who also publishes Toronto neighbourhood newspaper Parkdale-Liberty.

February 17, 2005
SPECIAL REPORT
Industry demands "new deal" with Ottawa
OTTAWA—The message was delivered loud and clear to federal policy makers and politicians on Tuesday: out-of-control postal rates are currently the single-biggest threat to the sustainability and growth of the magazine industry.

That was the unmistakable theme at the industry's Creating Canada conference at Ottawa's Chateau Laurier hotel, attended by 167 leading publishers from across Canada, as well as officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH), Canada Post Corporation and other organizations.

"Postal rates are the largest single threat to our ability to grow," declared Brian Segal, president and CEO of Rogers Publishing. He suggested regulation might be a way to control rapidly rising rates if a new deal can't be worked out with Canada Post and DCH, which administers the Publication Assistance Program (postal subsidy).

"We need a new partnership with the Canada Magazine Fund and Canada Post," urged André Préfontaine, president and CEO of Transcontinental Media. The success of Canada's consumer magazine industry, based on a subscription model, is due largely to the continued existence of the postal subsidy, he said. Canadian magazines have a 41% share of the entire magazine market, the highest penetration among all domestic cultural industries. The heavily subsidized feature film industry has 2% market share, by comparison.

But, said Préfontaine, "I find no consolation in looking at the numbers." He suggested the industry set a goal of 45% market share, which was later anted up by Brian Segal to 50%, a number that stuck throughout the rest of the conference.

At a reception after the formal meetings, Heritage Minister Liza Frulla, fresh from a Flag Day event with the Prime Minister, gave a short but spirited address in which she declared her support for the 50% target. "When you're saying 50%, we're in it!" she exclaimed.

Frulla's parliamentary secretary, Toronto MP Sarmite Bulte, said earlier at the luncheon that DCH was having "not an easy negotiation" with Canada Post, but that her department was "pushing for reasonable and stable distribution rates for Canadian magazines and Canadian readers."

Among other politicians in attendance for at least part of the day was Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, ushered into the reception by fellow Edmontonian Ruth Kelly, publisher of Alberta Venture; and Senator Pat Carney.

Despite the conference's positive mood and even hugs and kisses between Marc Blondeau, president of Magazines du Québec, and Frulla (they are former colleagues from their days in radio), a new rate deal with Canada Post has not been concluded. And funding for the PAP subsidy is scheduled to drop to $45.4 million next year, down from this year's $49.4 million. In the late 1980s, the postal subsidy was $220 million.

The Creating Canada conference was produced by the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association and Magazines du Québec, and was an unprecedented show of solidarity by English and French-language publishers, large and small, from across the country. Though postal rates was the dominant theme, the conference also touched on the need for Canadian publishers to command a greater share of the newsstand, the state of pay for freelance contributors, the creative process, and the success the industry has enjoyed with Canadian readers and advertisers, despite the odds.

February 15, 2005
Whyte to be Maclean’s next editor/publisher
TORONTO—Kenneth Whyte will replace Tony Wilson-Smith as the top editor at Maclean’s on March 14, Rogers Media announced yesterday. “I’ve had a long history of watching and following Maclean’s,” Whyte says, pointing back to the 1980s when he was a reporter and editor with the regional newsweekly Alberta Report, which competed with Maclean’s Western Canadian readers. He went on to edit Saturday Night (1994-1998) and was the founding editor-in-chief of the National Post (1998-2003).
   Whtye, who turns 45 this August, is currently a visiting fellow in Media and Public Policy at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. He’s also a governor of the Donner Canadian Foundation and a Senior Fellow at Massey College at the University of Toronto.
   “Now is a particularly good time to be coming in,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of other opportunities to do editing jobs in the last couple of years, but I wanted something that was first of all a challenge and, secondly, something that I thought was doable. Maclean’s has made a lot more progress in the last few years under Tony than people gave him credit for. He brought in some really good young people, and they’ve made a serious effort to become more engaging and provocative and I think these processes just have to continue for us to get beyond a threshold where it all starts to get recognized in the ad community and the public at large.”
   Since 1999, Maclean’s estimated revenues have declined 11.5% to $37.8 million in 2003 while paid circulation has declined 20.3% to 401,080.
   Whyte says he believes in the weekly medium and notes that it’s been “unfairly disparaged, particularly by our daily brethren.” Is Rogers prepared to invest in a reversal? “The whole point of this exercise is to start the magazine growing again, and we have some capacity to kick-start it a bit but basically it’s a process that’s going to take some time.” The message is long-term growth, “not a single, big-bang investment and hope it holds,” he says.
   Rogers’ Marc Blondeau, senior vice-president of consumer publishing, says the budget has been increased for 2005 to boost frequency from 45 to 49 issues. He added that Whyte was given the twin roles of publisher and editor because of his experience on the business side when he was at the National Post, where he rose to associate publisher. Former Maclean’s publisher Paul Jones resigned last November. Blondeau says having an editor also wear the publisher’s hat works in certain cases, pointing to Lise Ravary at the French edition of Châtelaine and Rick Spence’s Profit magazine of a few years ago. “The other way around doesn’t work very well.”

February 10, 2005
Magazine merchandiser goes national
CALGARY—Ncompass Retail Navigation, which provides store-level merchandising and compliance services to publishers and packaged goods manufacturers, has partnered with four well-heeled investors who will catapult the company onto a national playing field. The four partners are: The Jim Pattison Group of Vancouver (owner of magazine wholesaler The News Group), Metro News (The News Group’s biggest rival), Benjamin News Co. (a wholesaler specializing in the Quebec market) and NewsWest Inc, which established Ncompass in 2002. The deal was effective last Nov. 30, says NewsWest CEO Daniel Shapiro, but was announced yesterday. Each partner brings a group of field reps to the Ncompass equation, boosting its total complement from roughly 100 to 600 people in the field from coast to coast, ensuring, for example, that retailers are upholding the display contracts that publishers have purchased.
    It was also announced that Ncompass has entered into a joint venture with Ivrnet Inc., also of Calgary, to provide real-time data on, for example, sales velocity of magazines.
    Ncompass president Shaun Conroy could not be reached for comment.

February 8, 2005
New glossy for affluent land owners
SASKATOON, Sask.—A new sort of home magazine is hoping to nestle into the bountiful shelter category, which has posted average annual jumps in run-of-press ad pages of 14% since 2002, according to LNA Canada. Acreage Life is a new quarterly set to launch this April by Western Producer Publications, based here, and will be distributed free to 60,000 homes of those aged 35-plus with household incomes exceeding $75,000 who do not rely on their land for income. Targeted readers live on parcels of land from one to 25 acres in size within an hour’s drive from any large town located in Ontario westward to B.C.
In a released statement, WPP marketing director Glenn Caleval said: “You may be able to find good ATV reviews if you subscribe to an outdoor magazine, tips on renovations in a home-improvement magazine, a guide to managing firewood in a survivalist publication, and advice on attracting birds and wildlife in a nature magazine, [but] Acreage Life brings these sorts of features together in one beautiful package.”
     A full-page, four-colour ad sells for $6,000. A sample issue in PDF format contains ads from Kubota and John Deere.
    WPP, publisher of The Western Producer, a weekly farm newspaper, was acquired in 2002 by Vancouver-based Glacier Ventures International, a communications company that trades on the TSX. Last month, Glacier paid $5.1 million in cash for an 85% stake in Nuns’ Island, Que.-based CD-Pharma Interactive Medical Productions Ltd, which produces CD-ROMs, videos and print publications for medical professionals. Madison Venture Corp., which holds a 32% stake in Glacier, also owns a portion of Business in Vancouver Media Group.
    As recently as last month, Glacier has declared an interest acquiring trade magazines. 

February 3, 2005
August shutting operations
WINNIPEG—A strong Canadian dollar is spelling big trouble for a Western Canada publishing operation. August Communications, owned by Saskatchewan printer Print West Group, will close its Winnipeg office by March 31, says acting PW Group CEO Grant Gayton. About one quarter of PW Group’s annual sales of $40 million were to U.S. customers in the form of directory printing. The rising Canadian dollar has made that business largely unprofitable, Gayton said, adding that August’s various titles (including Pet Commerce and Franchise Canada) are being sold off. Any remaining titles will be relocated to PW’s Regina office.

February 1, 2005
Magazine adspend on healthy growth curve
TORONTO—A strong fourth quarter last year translated into an overall jump of 6.5% in advertising pages at 87 of Canada’s largest consumer magazines, according to Leading National Advertisers (Canada). A 5.8% jump in Q4 run-of-press ad pages brought the total count to 43,334 ad pages in 2004 representing $646.6 million in revenue, up 7.4% compared to 2003. The strongest sector was the youth category, which showed a 17.7% jump in ROP pages, followed by outdoor/hunting (15.4%), homes/shelter (14.6%) and television/entertainment (14.1%). The toughest category last year was gardening, down 7.6% in ROP pages.
    The Top 10 magazines (as measured by ROP gains): (i) Elm Street: The Look (79%), (ii) Rénovation Bricolage (38.5%), (iii) Eclat (31.1%), (iv) Madame au Foyer (29.2%), (v) Canadian Geographic (24%), (vi) Plaisirs de Vivre/Living in Style (22.8%), (vii) Outdoor Canada (21.7%), (viii) Inside Entertainment (20.1%), (ix) explore (20%) and (x) Homemakers (19.8%).

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