Masthead News Archives
March 2004
March 30, 2004
PMB 2004: Magazine readership increases
TORONTO—In its annual survey released this morning, the Print Measurement Bureau revealed that the country's largest English-language magazines, on average, have increased from 5 to 5.5 readers per copy (RPC)-a healthy jump of 10%. French titles jumped from 5.3 to 5.6 readers per copy. Meanwhile, gross readership is up 3.2% after posting a 0.7% decline in PMB 2003, but PMB president Steve Ferley warns that gross readership is a misleading indicator because the same titles are not monitored year-over-year. "Titles come and go," he says. "Comparing readers per copy, year over year, is the most sound basis for comparing readership trends." This is the fourth installment of PMB's "recent reading" methodology, and as such allows for multi-year comparisons and pattern identification. Old rivalries continue with National Post Business maintaining a thinning lead over Report on Business Magazine, eye losing ground to Now and Fashion overtaking Flare. For a full report-and to see who's won bragging rights-see the May issue of Masthead.

March 25, 2004
Transcontinental reports soft Q1
MONTREAL—Revenues are down 3% in Transcontinental’s publishing sector from $123 million in 2003 to $119 million in 2004 according to its first quarter that were announced last week. The report blames the revenue decrease on low national advertising spending particularly in the automotive and government sectors, which affected its business magazines and daily newspapers. Transcontinental also points to an increased investment in the development of certain publications, among other activities, for a 17% drop in operating income to $20 million compared to the same period last year. Continuing to fair well are its women’s magazines, which benefited from strong ad spending in the toiletries category. Madame au Foyer and Homemakers, both of which relaunched with a larger format last year and boasted circulation gains over 2002, reported a “good improvement” in the quarter.
Also, Transcontinental announced yesterday at its annual meeting of shareholders that founder Rémi Marcoux is passing the torch as CEO to president and chief operating officer Luc Desjardins. Marcoux will now continue as the executive chairman of the board and will retain his controlling interest in the company.

March 23, 2003
Fulcrum is gassing about its purchase of Octane
TORONTO—Fulcrum Publications saw a strategic opportunity in its recent acquisition of Octane magazine, a retail petroleum publication from Calgary’s JuneWarren Publishing. As publisher of Your Convenience Manager, Fulcrum’s purchase of the 8,500-circ bimonthly was in response to “today’s blurring of retail channels among car wash, convenience, convenience-gas and hyper-markets,” said Fulcrum group publisher Alan Fogel in a released statement. Octane will be folded into its 40,000-circ bimonthly YCM as a section of the magazine starting with its May/June issue. The transaction, which closed March 12 for an undisclosed amount, included the purchase of an automobile refuelling, washing and convenience store trade show.
“[Octane] was beyond our scope,” says Bill Whitelaw, group publisher of JuneWarren Publishing about the sale. “We’re oil and gas publishers.” JuneWarren bought Octane with its sister publication Oilweek from Maclean Hunter five years ago.

March 18, 2003
Manitoba association pulls off a first
WINNIPEG—The Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association held its first-ever professional development conference last weekend. MMPA president Laird Rankin, who is also publisher of The Beaver, says it was a resounding success. Magazine Weekend 2004 exceeded organizers' expectations. Approximately 40 people filled each of the five seminars that included a presentation on circulation promotion by Abacus Circulation vice-president Eithne McCredie and a Postal Assistance Program session led by Rogers Publishing's senior vice-president, consumer marketing, Michael J. Fox. Former Utne Reader editor Jay Walljasper delivered a humorous keynote address. Transcontinental Printing, Canada Magazine Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, among others, supported the event.
Rankin, who is stepping down as MMPA president after five years, will be succeeded by The Cottager editor Betty-Ann Watts. Former Pegasus Publications co-owner John Perrin becomes vice-president and Herizons editor Penni Mitchell will chair the association.

March 16, 2004
Promotional campaign pumps Alberta mags
CALGARY—The month of March has a new designation in Alberta, thanks to the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association and its partners. Amid much media interest and best wishes from the provincial and federal governments, AMPA officially launched the first annual Read Alberta Magazines Month on March 5. AMPA chair Ruth Kelly, also publisher of Alberta Venture, figuratively cut the ribbon at a cocktail reception in Calgary that was also part of AMPA's annual conference. For more info, visit

March 12, 2004
Platt succeeds Clarke as top bureaucrat
OTTAWA—Gordon Platt, a former section head with the Canada Council for the Arts and most recently a director overseeing the country's book publishing policy, has succeeded Allan Clarke as the highest-ranking civil servant overseeing the government's magazine and book publishing policy. Clarke stepped down last week as director general, publishing policy and programs at the Department of Canadian Heritage. He has taken up new responsibilities in the recently created Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat in the Privy Council Office. "Although the decision to leave was not an easy one, I could not pass by an opportunity to be part of creating the [secretariat] and helping deliver on such an important government priority in a very critical area," Clarke said in a released statement. "It is a subject in which I have a profound personal interest."

Notice: Publishers of poetry are reminded that the window for entry into this year's National Magazine Awards competition shuts on Tuesday March 16. Visit: for info.

March 9, 2004
Lewis steps down at Reader's Digest
MONTREAL—The editorship of Canada's largest magazine is up for grabs. Editor-in-chief Murray Lewis has decided to devote all of his energy as editor of sister title-and his brainchild-Our Canada, which launched in January (see News Archives, Dec. 11, 2003). "Basically what we figured out in creating Our Canada was that one person would not be enough to give both magazines the attention they deserve," he said of his old dual-editor role. Lewis has been with Reader's Digest Canada since 1990, and was executive editor before succeeding Katherine Walker as editor-in-chief in 1998. He said a job posting will appear this month and that individuals from outside the company will be invited to apply. Meanwhile, RD will carry on under the current staff, led by managing editor Peter DesLauriers. Reader's Digest international editorial director Conrad Kiechel has been invited up from the States to assist with the transition, Lewis confirmed, adding that his successor will hail from this country. "It's a Canadian magazine. We need a Canadian at the helm." Reader's Digest has a monthly paid circulation of 955,000 and estimated annual revenue in 2002 of $40.1 million.

March 4, 2004
Hollinger's BIG in play
NEW YORK—A U.S. court decision last Thursday forbidding Conrad Black from selling his controlling stake in Hollinger International has restarted International's stalled divestiture process which began last November under the auspices of Lazard Frères & Co., based here. While Lazard spokesman Louis Zachary could not be reached for comment, a source who did not want to be identified said that Lazard was commencing meetings with at least one Toronto-based bidder for International's Toronto-based Business Information Group-Canada's second-largest collection of trade magazines consisting of 34 titles and a massive B2B Web portal. BIG generates estimated annual revenues of $40 million. Rogers Media, Transcontinental Media and Toronto-based investment bank Kilmer Capital have all expressed interest in BIG. Asked if his company was also planning a meeting with Lazard, Aurora, Ont.-based CLB Media president Stuart Morrison said, "No comment."

March 2, 2004
Biweekly to challenge "left-wing mush"
CALGARY—What ever happened to Ezra Levant? The former member of the National Post editorial board and the federal Canadian Alliance Party (he gave up his seat to then-party leader Stephen Harper) is set to launch a reincarnation of Alberta Report—the cranky conservative Christian biweekly that folded last year for want of ad support and Ontario subscribers. Based in this city, the Western Standard will pursue a national paid-circ model with right-of-centre editorial but without Alberta Report's Christian garb (Levant is Jewish). The magazine's direct-mail offer sums it up as "Canada's only independent, pro-Western, conservative, pro-America, pro-liberty, pro-beef news magazine." It's a magazine for "Canadians hungry for fair and balanced journalism—not just left-wing mush," the literature reads. The magazine has 19 investors, including Levant and Lyle Dunkley, a well-known oil patch executive from Calgary. A radio spin-off is planned to launch next month. "My job as publisher," Levant says, " is to keep the editorial content interesting and controversial and spicy enough to delight our Western readers who like that kind of writing but keep it reputable and responsible enough to keep our advertisers happy—I think we've got the right balance." Look for more on the Western Standard in the April issue of Masthead.

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Wow, Torstar really seems to be on a mission to bankrupt one magazine after another....
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