Masthead News Archives
March 2006

March 30, 2006
Youngblood to launch another printing title
TORONTO-Is the flexographic printing market big enough to sustain a second title? Sara Young, president of Youngblood Publishing, publisher of Print Action magazine, thinks so.

Young confirms that she'll be launching a standard-size quarterly glossy called FlexoAction in June, which will cover the flexographic printing markets. Flexography, as opposed to conventional offset printing, employs flexible printing plates, often made of rubber or plastic, used to print on packaging materials such as grocery bags, foil, cardboard and brown paper. FlexoAction's circulation will be 7,500, Young says. “We are actively working with the Canadian Flexographic Training Committee to help develop flexography seminars throughout the year and a [trade show] to be held in Toronto in the fall of 2006,” she adds.

Young appears to be going head-to-head with Rogers Publishing's Flexo Canada, a nine-year-old quarterly, 7,000-circ glossy that also has a three-year-old annual conference, called FlexoCan, The conference is currently being modified, says publisher Susan Ritcey, who declined to comment on FlexoAction until she's seen a copy.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, MastheadOnline parent North Island Publishing also publishes Graphic Monthly, which competes with Print Action and Canadian Printer.)

March 30, 2006
PMB bragging-rights season begins with today’s release
TORONTO—The Print Measurement Bureau released its top-line 2006 readership scores today, giving cheer to several titles in competitive battles, yet proving once again the power of American magazine mega-brands.

Though it’s too early for the PMB field research to record any changes in readership due to Maclean’s recent redesign, a slight up-tick from 6.3 to 7.1 readers per copy (2005 vs. 2006) and total readership growth of 5.2% will provide encouragement to publisher/editor Kenneth Whyte, his staff and Rogers management. Readers-per-copy of Maclean’s arch-rival, Time Canada, remains unchanged at 11.5, with total readership essentially flat.

Sister Time Inc. brands topped the chart this year. Sports Illustrated, in its first full two-year PMB study, had the highest RPC of all 121 titles in the study, at 23.7. People came second, with 20.2. The top-ranking Canadian title is Transcontinental’s Outdoor Canada (edited by former Masthead editor Patrick Walsh, we might add), with 18.9 RPC, a dip from its No. 1 position last year at 20.5.

Among the new titles making a major impact on PMB this year is What’s Cooking, the custom title published by Redwood Communications for Kraft, with a massive readership (one-year study) of 3.5 million and an impressive 2.5 RPC. That makes What’s Cooking the fifth-largest PMB title by readership in Canada, after Reader’s Digest, Chatelaine, Canadian Living, and People. 

Canadian Family, which recently redesigned to take a more serious run at leader Today’s Parent, improved its RPC from 5.6 to 8.2. Today’s Parent slipped slightly from 9.5 to 9.0 RPC, though total readership is up 4.4% to 1.897 million. The PMB topline report is available at

March 29, 2006
Petraitis murder conspiracy trial inches ahead
TORONTO—The case of former Metro News chairman Alex Petraitis, charged with conspiring to murder his wife, will come before the Superior Court of Justice, again, on April 19.

Petraitis case got Page One treatment in Toronto's tabloid
Recent court dates on Jan. 28, Feb. 15 and March 15 failed to result in a trial date. The next proceeding will take place on April 19 at which time a trial date may be set.

Petraitis, who is being represented by Edward Greenspan, was arrested in Peterborough on Jan. 16, 2004, on a charge of conspiring to murder his wife, Kristen. He was released on Jan. 30 after posting $3.15 million in bail. Petraitis’ alleged then-mistress, Sandra Lynn Rinella, is a co-accused in the case.

According to a 2004 report in the Toronto Sun, statements containing admissions by would-be assassin Kerry Robert Anderson were read in a Toronto court in September 2004 alleging that Petraitis and his dominatrix lover, Rinella, hired Anderson to murder Kristen Petraitis, his wife of 40 years. The plan allegedly soured when Anderson, Rinella’s ex-common law spouse, who began taping his conversations with the couple, threatened to expose the plot to Kristen Petraitis unless he received $1 million and a Hummer. 

Upstart to take on SBC properties
COLLINGWOOD, Ont.—After studying marketing at Toronto’s Seneca College, Dan Lennox, 26, returned to what he knew—magazine publishing.

Publishes regionally in Collingwood, Ont., Whistler and, this coming winter, for ski bummery based in Mt. Tremblant
In 2003, Lennox says he helped launch a snowboarding/skateboarding/music mag called Anthem (now called Verses). He left the magazine and returned to school. In January 2005, Lennox and some long-time friends launched a quarterly glossy tabloid called UpDown, targeting the 18-to-35 crowd who ski and snowboard at ski resorts two hours north of Toronto. He felt they were underserved. This past December he launched another edition of UpDown in the B.C. ski-bum mecca of Whistler. Later this year, there will be an edition of UpDown launching for Quebec’s Mount Tremblant crowd. Circulation is 15,000 for each regional edition. Editions for Canmore and Banff are in the works, says Lennox. Distribution is controlled through participating gear shops and other retailers. 

UpDown is competing directly with Snowboard Canada, published by SBC Media, and Lennox knows it. “The thing about us is that we’re offering three different publications and three different covers.” Each edition will feature national features and content specific to each of the three regions. 

SBC Media could not be reached for comment.

Media heavyweights ponder your future
TORONTO—The heavyweights of the Canadian advertising and media industries gathered for the annual CMDC conference yesterday to try to make sense of the “mayhem” in the hyper-fragmented media world. In addition to the broad prognostications for the future were a few tidbits for magazine folks.

Maclean’s publisher and editor Kenneth Whyte, in a panel session, noted that print remains innovative and weekly magazines such as People, Us, The Economist and The New Yorker are all doing well—despite massive competition on the Internet and elsewhere—because they provide value to readers. He declared he’s more interested in growing revenue from Maclean’s current circulation, rather than growing the circulation. “I do think there is room to charge more, particularly on the subscription front. I think all media has undercharged… The authority of print media is not matched anywhere else. You see it at the high-end magazines like The Economist and The New Yorker, charging more and succeeding.”

Among the changes he’d still like to make at Maclean’s is moving distribution forward so the magazine arrives before the weekend instead of afterwards, a change that would have ramifications through the whole distribution chain.

Whyte also took a shot at fretful newspaper publishers, who are anxious about declining circulations. “I think newspapers still need to invest more in content and product,” he said. “You can’t expect 20% in profitability year-in, year-out without investing.”

(Speaking of newspapers, fellow panelist Peter Viner, president and CEO of CanWest MediaWorks, noted his papers are doing well in the insert business, earning $100 million a year in revenue from inserts including magazine inserts.)

Among the conference treats was a taste of the converged future as envisioned by Quebecor Inc. and presented by president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau during his luncheon address. Péladeau showed a “rehearsal” video of a new concept called Canoe Live, based on Quebecor’s Canoe web brand. The mesmerizing, rapid-fire video portrayed a newscaster appearing on Quebecor’s Sun TV and also on a live video stream over covering two stories, a Paris Hilton lookalike discovered in Winnipeg and the issue of bodychecking in kids’ hockey. The video jumped from the newscaster, to mini-interviews with Toronto Sun journalists, to related blog posts, to home video of a hockey game, all presented on a screen that at times looked like a busy web page or a busy CNN-style screen. Péladeau prefaced the demo by presenting findings from a Quebecor-sponsored survey about media habits, which reported that for brands to be relevant, “you need to be available on all channels.”

Another popular conference theme was “place shifting,” as demonstrated by wireless devices and gadgets such as the Slingbox, which sits on your TV and streams your TV channels through a broadband Internet connection to your laptop, allowing you to watch your home TV from anywhere in the world. 

The Canadian Media Directors’ Council’s website is at

March 28, 2006
OMDC shares funding stats on 22 publishers
TORONTO—A total of $476,161 was distributed to Ontario-based publishers last year by the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Magazine Fund, formerly known as Volume II.

The OMDC is an agency of the province’s Ministry of Culture. For a list of recipients, see below.
While the OMDC declined to reveal project specifics out of deference to each recipient’s competitive position, we have learned that Gripped Inc., publishers of Gripped for climbers, used the money to launch a second title called Triathlon Magazine Canada, a new 8,000-circ glossy bimonthly for triathletes that launched this month. Also, Take One used the money to create a $24 special edition entitled, “1001 Greatest Canadian Films & Filmmakers of All Time.” Take One, the magazine, suspended publication in January after 14 years although the special edition remains for sale. The magazine is owned by the Canadian Independent Film & Television Publishing Association, which is “hopeful that Take One’s hiatus will be short–lived, and that it can enter into a partnership with an organization, institution or combination of interested parties that will assume the responsibility for publishing this unique Canadian film magazine.”
Among the recipients was Masthead magazine, which received $21,474 to help fund its conversion program to a paid-circulation model.

2005 OMDC Magazine Fund Recipients: 
Alternatives Inc. - Alternative Journal magazine -$25,000
C.E. BIZ Corp. - C.E.Biz magazine - $25,000
Canadian Art Foundation - Canadian Art magazine - $25,000
Canadian Geographic Enterprises - Canadian Geographic magazine - $25,000
Canadian Independent Film & Television - Take One magazine- $25,000
Canadian Newcomer Magazine Inc. - Canadian Newcomer magazine - $25,000
Canadian Review of Books Ltd. - Books in Canada magazine - $25,000
Corporate Knights Inc. - Corporate Knights magazine - $25,000
Explore Media Ltd. - Explore magazine - $25,000
Gripped Inc. - Gripped magazine - $25,000
Harworth Publishing - SpaLife magazine- $10,000
JM Publishing - DIY Boat Owner magazine - $22,670
Jon R Group - Visitor Guide magazine - $23,282
Media Matter Incorp. - Collision Repair magazine - $17,060
No Fear Publishing - Fab magazine - $10,000
North Island Publishing – Masthead magazine - $21,474
Outpost Inc. - Outpost magazine - $25,000
Promotive Communications Inc. - Biotechnology Focus magazine - $24,375
Sky News Inc. - Sky News magazine - $15,000
Solstice Publishing - Ski Canada magazine - $25,000
Verge Magazine Inc. - Verge magazine - $17,300
Youth Culture Inc. - Vervegirl magazine - $15,000

Magazine musical to make its debut
VANCOUVER—Sure, Toronto has the world premiere of high-tech musical The Lord of the Rings but, for magazine lovers, Vancouver’s Granville Island has something for more interesting—Ink.

Playwright Paul Byrne, who is also publisher of Kelowna's Okanagan Life.
Okanagan Life publisher cum playwright Paul Byrne has written all the songs and endured numerous edits and rewrites but his baby is finally hitting the stage after 10 years in the works. It’s running from April 14 to 23 at Granville Island’s Performance Works theatre. “It’s about the influence of ink to our society,” says Byrne, reached on his cell phone last week. “Gutenberg is the No. 1 guy, and its about the ‘inkfluence’ that’s been passed on…what a magazine means to its community, how it serves its reader and the marketplace—all the trials and tribulations.” For more info, see

March 27, 2006
Gretzkys catapult House & Home to record sales
TORONTO—Wayne and Janet Gretzky’s $20-million California mansion, featured on the cover of House & Home’s 320-page October 2005 issue, was the magazine’s best newsstand performer in its 20-year history, selling almost 97,000 single copies, beating the previous best seller (November 2004) by more than 7,000 copies.

Best-selling cover ever
“I was thrilled but not entirely surprised that the Gretzky issue did so well,” said Alex Cooper, vice-president of circulation and strategic planning, in a statement. “We anticipated its success and completely reworked our distribution process by putting out 12,000 extra newsstand copies over the previous issue. We also wanted to time the cover price increase with an issue we expected great things from—I knew when I saw the cover that the October issue would be a record-breaker. And the timing of the issue with the return of hockey was one of those perfect moments when everything converges, allowing for astounding success.” 

House & Home is promising to feature another Canadian celebrity’s home on an upcoming cover. Whose? Either Celine Dion’s Las Vegas villa or Shania Twain’s Switzerland redoubt. 

U.S. publishers peering northward
BALDWIN, N.Y.— Kevin Kamen says U.S.-based print media executives have expressed so much interest in Canada that he is expanding his service northward.

Kevin Kamen
Media appraiser and brokerage firm Kamen & Co. Group Services is also expanding overseas in the U.K. and Ireland for the same reason. It currently has an office here and in Tampa. The company offers labour negotiation services, business planning, appraisals, feasibility and market analysis, circulation building and executive/staff training. 

In a recent interview, Kamen said that in the past six months between 15 and 20 American publishers have expressed an interest in partnering with or partially acquiring Canadian media companies. Current ownership rules limit foreign companies to a 49% stake in existing domestic media operations although foreign investors can finance and own 100% of a Canadian start-up. “They are interested in making inroads into Canada,” says Kamen of his U.S. clients. “They wouldn’t make a major investment without doing due diligence.” That’s where Kamen & Co. would come in; Canadian publishers interested in partnering or selling a stake in their business would open their books to Kamen & Co. as part of the due diligence and valuation process. Kamen says he will not be opening a physical office in Canada. 

March 23, 2006
Rogers’ hook-and-bullet title gets a new editor
TORONTO—Ontario Out of Doors magazine has found an editor to succeed Burt Myers, the 36-year veteran of the magazine who was fired in January by publisher Alison de Groot.

Matt Nicholls
Matt Nicholls has been appointed editor-in-chief of the title. He starts April 3. He’s currently editor-in-chief of Maximum Fitness (formerly known as American Health & Fitness), the glossy bimonthly published by Mississauga, Ont.-based Canusa Products Inc., owned by British expat Robert Kennedy. Nicholls joined Canusa last July, and is returning to his former employer, Rogers. He was formerly editor of Meetings & Incentive Travel but prior to that had been editor at now-defunct titles Ontario Fisherman and  Canadian Sportfishing. The Queen’s University grad (English) is a native of Thunder Bay and, as such, hunting and fishing has long been a big part of his lifestyle, he says. “This is the magazine that I’ve always wanted to work for.”

Burt Myers
Myers, who was also associate publisher, had been with the magazine since 1970 (a year after it launched). Myers and de Groot had reached an “impasse,” said de Groot in an interview following Myers departure in January. Myers declined to comment as he was working through the details surrounding his severance, although he conceded “age was an issue.” He declined to say whether it was his own age or that of his targeted readership.

For her part, de Groot notes that the magazine’s aging demo is a concern. “We need to figure out where the next [generation of] readers is coming from…While our traditional reader ages, we need to find replacements for those readers and it’s a very delicate balance.” According to PMB, the average OOD reader is 40.8 years old. De Groot joined the magazine as publisher in August 2004, succeeding the retiring Ron Goodman who was nearly 80. Interesting to note that Nicholls also applied for the job of publisher, but lost to de Groot. 

Ontario Out of Doors publishes 10 times a year. The member list of the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters plays a key role in the magazine’s circulation model. The title has a paid circulation of about 86,000, including 2,900 single-copy sales. Its chief rival is Transcontinental Media’s 88,000-circ Outdoor Canada, which sells about 9,500 copies through the newsstands. 

March 22, 2006
Canadian Art crosses fingers for FOLIO: gold
CHICAGO-Publisher Melony Ward was “blown away” by news earlier this week that her glossy quarterly Canadian Art is in the running for either gold or silver at next week's Folio: Publishing Summit at the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago.

The Folio Awards for Magazine Events (FAME) have 11 categories, including Best Charity/Non-Profit Event, which is what Canadian Art hopes to win for its annual Canadian Gallery Hop. There were over 150 entries in the category from across the U.S., Ward said.

Last September, the 10th annual Hop included a $200-a-plate gala dinner for more than 700 people at Koolhaus in Toronto, a “major schmooze” cocktail party and silent art auction to raise money for the Canadian Art Foundation, the registered charity that publishes the magazine. There was also a Hop in October that involved 300 students from across Toronto. Sponsorship revenue increased 10%, attendance increased 35% and ticket revenues increased 30% over 2004. “We were overwhelmed by the response, and had our space not been limited to 700, we could have accommodated our long waiting list,” Ward said.

Canadian Art was founded in 1984 and has a mostly paid circulation of 17,000. The Hop began in 1985 as a means to raise money for the magazine, which was struggling. “The magazine now actually gets very little money from the foundation,” Ward said, “because it's close to self-sufficient.”

More than 700 people turned out for Canadian Art's gala dinner and cocktail party last September

March 21, 2006
Former Chatelaine AD is now an editor
TORONTO—The former art director of Canada’s largest women’s magazine has been named editor of Gardening Life.

Caren Watkins
Caren Watkins, art director at Chatelaine for nearly 11 years, resigned last December. She took up duties as editor-in-chief of St. Joseph Media’s glossy gardening title in mid-February. Reached in Mexico on her cell phone last week while waiting for a connecting flight to Guadalajara, Watkins said she’s eager to take on editorial duties when she returns from her tropical holiday. “It doesn’t feel like a huge stretch for me,” said the avid gardener of her jump from art directing to editing. “In many ways this is a dream job for me.” The May 2006 issue Gardening Life will be her first.

She succeeds Marjorie Harris, who is now editor-at-large. “I’ve been having lots of great meetings with [Harris],” says Watkins, “and her voice is still very much part of the magazine.” As for what sort of personal stamp she’ll be putting on the title, Watkins says it’s too soon to say. She’s still “absorbing the demographic, who our readers are and should be.”

In September 2005, St. Joseph Media announced that it had acquired 100% ownership of Gardening Life. St. Joe was a silent 50% partner in the glossy bimonthly with Lynda Reeves’ House & Home Media. * St. Joseph acquired its 50% stake in 2002 when it bought the assets of Key Media.

Gardening Life art director Brad MacIver, who came over to St. Joe from the offices of House & Home Media, will remain AD. Giorgina Bigioni, vice-president and group publisher of St. Joe’s Style Group, will oversee the title on the business side while Wish editor-in-chief Jane Francisco will serve as GL’s editorial director.

*Reeves launched Gardening Life in 1996. Rival Toronto Life Gardens (Key Media) launched around the same time and the two titles went to battle; the partnership was struck when Key agreed to fold Gardens.

March 20, 2006
CMA to launch consumer glossy
OTTAWA—Two veteran publishers from St. Joseph Media have left the company to join CMA Media Inc., which will be launching its first consumer magazine in September.  

Steve Ball, formerly publisher of Ottawa Magazine, resigned last month to become vice-president at CMA Media, publisher of the embattled Canadian Medical Association Journal.* Ball is slated to become publisher of Canadian Health, a glossy, 60,000-circ bimonthly to launch this September. CMA Media also publishes the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine, Canadian Journal of Surgery and Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience.

Canadian Health will be distributed to 26,000 doctors’ offices across the country and will be edited by Diana Swift, formerly editor-in-chief at Canadian Family and before that a senior editor at The Medical Post. 

Blair Graham
Joining Ball on April 3 will be longtime colleague Blair Graham, formerly executive vice-president, corporate sales, at St. Joseph Media, where he was in charge, in part, of handling RFPs and determining which of St. Joseph’s dozen or so titles were the right fit. Blair, who left St. Joseph last week, will be CMA Media’s director of sales. “I’m a huge fan of [St. Joseph Media] and of the product line here,” he said during an interview last week. “I just decided to make a lifestyle change… I found that I’d rather right now work on one magazine instead of 10 or 12.” 

Graham Morris
Graham Morris, who was appointed CMA Media president in April 2004, also hails from a consumer magazine background; he was president of Telemedia Publishing from 1996 until Transcontinental Media acquired it February 2000.  Morris has been a key figure during a time of major internal restructuring at the Canadian Medical Association. In January 2005, the CMA sold its $10-million publications division to the CMA’s financial arm, CMA Holdings, for $4.2 million. CMA Media was then created on a for-profit basis. At the time, Morris stated that “future profits will be reinvested in either acquisitions or the creation of new titles.” 

* Last Thursday, 14 of 19 editorial board members at the CMAJ resigned en masse citing a “loss of trust” in the CMA’s leadership. The resignations stem from the association’s Feb. 20 decision to fire, without cause, CMAJ editor Dr. John Hoey and senior deputy editor Anne Marie Todkill. The power struggle between the Journal’s credentialed editorial brain trust and the association’s executive has caught the attention of The New York Times and support from the New England Journal of Medicine, which sees the case as “the epicenter of the ongoing struggle over the scope and limits of editorial freedom at association-owned journals.” 

March 16, 2006
PMB to reveal info on 12 new members
TORONTO—Print Measurement Bureau president Steve Ferley says the annual survey into magazine readership will be released March 30.

The annual PMB survey is the most influential tool used by media planners to purchase magazine advertising. It’s the largest consumer survey in Canada boasting a sample size of about 25,000 respondents. This year’s survey will include data on 12 new PMB member magazines. The English-language newcomers are: City Parent (Metroland), Forever Young (Metroland), Vervegirl (Youth Culture Inc.), What’s Cooking (Redwood’s custom pub for Kraft), What’s Up Kids Family (independent). The new French titles are: Adorable (Genex Communications), Famous Quebec (1371327 Ontario Ltd.), qu’est ce qui mijote (sister title to What’s Cooking), Ricardo (Gesca), Summum (Genex) and Jobboom (Quebecor Media). 

Things to watch for: The tight rivalries between Report on Business and Financial Post Business and Toronto city tabs eye (Torstar) and Michael Hollett’s Now; whether U.S.-imports Sport Illustrated and People Weekly are gaining or losing ground; and, of course, which way the numbers are going at that magazine that lives in a fishbowl: Maclean’s.

Where Toronto lets editor go
TORONTO—Kisha Ferguson was fired from Where Toronto last month after less than a year and a half on the job.

Where Toronto freelancer Anne Gibson took up duties last week as the new editor. Ferguson’s predecessor, Jacquelyn Waller-Vintar, was in the slot for 12 years before she was fired in August 2004 from the St. Joseph Media title. Ferguson declined to comment on the situation and is apparently still working out severance terms with St. Joseph. Publisher Sandra Parco is on holiday and unavailable for comment.

And now for something completely different…
TORONTO—A well-known magazine distribution executive has released a music video in which he can be seen flitting around town in a longhaired blonde wig in a grotesque, unshaven parody of Britney Spears. His stage name is Harlan Wolf. His real name is Ron Sellwood, a mild-mannered account executive with Coast to Coast Newsstand Services and acting president of the Circulation Management Association of Canada.

Ron Sellwood's CD/DVD combo retails for $18.95
The four-minute video, called “Britney Spears for President,” is an audio-visual reductio ad absurdum of U.S. politics. Starring Sellwood, and his wig, he is joined by an entourage of three other band members in masks resembling Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Twenty or so friends and relatives showed up for filming in Toronto last summer; in the video, they appear to be running away in horror at the presidential candidate, who is chasing them. The song itself is clearly over the top but it has a decent beat and is actually meant to draw attention to the other 15 tracks that Sellwood is offering, which are not jokes. While the music defies description, one could call it a beat-driven, jazz-sway-reggae-pop-country fusion. He refers to his music as a “bizzarosity.” Other tracks in the $18.95 CD/DVD package include “Moon Baboon,” “I Looked the Devil in the Eye,” “Bye Bye Boo Boo” and “Lovers at First Sight”
Choreography plays a central role in the video

Sellwood has long been a songwriter and musician (piano, accordion) having produced one album and two cassettes of music in the 1980s and 1990s after studying music for four years at York University. Noted tenor sax Pat LaBarbera participated in this current project.

“For me it’s a big lark,” says Sellwood, “but at the same time the payoff could be tremendous. Or it could be absolutely nothing. I think it’s a matter of how ingenious you are and who you might be able to meet along the way.” The Barenaked Ladies or some such band might popularize a track or two, he notes.

The key will be marketing. He’s hoping his bizarre music video and Top 10 list for why Britney would make a good president (see his website) will land him a spot on the Late Show with David Letterman. He has initiated discussions but show producers have yet to reply to his queries—“which is not uncommon,” Sellwood concedes. He has purchased a $47 ad in the classified section of the May issue of Harper’s, which will simply read: “Blame Canada.”
Focused, determined, driven - qualities that describe Harlan Wolf

“There are some times in life when you get to be a certain age and you say, ‘Okay, how many times will this come up again? I don’t think that often. So let’s just take it as far as we can.’ If we don’t have a home run, maybe we get a triple, or get a single. Or maybe we strike out. But at least we gave it a shot.” He adds that it’s “so off the wall and out there” that it stands outside of the traditional music industry channels, which is the beauty of the Web—it has allowed Sellwood to finally bring his best music to mass market.

The next step? He’s applying for a listing in iTunes—Apple’s library of digitized music where users pay to download individual songs. He isn’t kidding.

March 13, 2006
Hello! gets an editor
TORONTO—Rogers Publishing has announced that it has hired an entertainment industry veteran to edit Hello!, which the company plans to launch in August 2006 in an arrangement with a U.K. licensor.  

New Hello! Editor Christopher Loudon (Photo credit: TV Guide/Geoff George)
Christopher Loudon, founding editor of Kontent Publishing’s Inside Entertainment, will join Rogers on April 3; he’s currently wrapping up production of Inside E’s May issue. Loudon says that he very much enjoys his current job and the team he works with, but the opportunity to work with the international brand was “just too exciting.” Asked if he thought the celebrity category was nearing saturation, he notes that “[b]ecause Hello! does have a very unique spin, I think it can carve out its own niche [in Canada].”  That “unique spin” is the magazine’s refusal to engage in tawdry, gotcha-style reportage, instead focusing on celebrities’ positive aspects. Hello!’s editorial content will draw from other editions published in England and Spain as well as in-house features. 

Kendon Polak succeeds Loudon as editor-in-chief at Inside Entertainment
This won’t be Loudon’s first taste of international publishing. He worked at Reader’s Digest in New York in the late 1980s and AOL Live in Washington in the late ’90s after leaving his gig as editor at TV Guide (Canada).  He has been editor-in-chief at Inside E for the past four and a half years. Succeeding Loudon at Inside E is managing editor Kendon Polak. 

Shelley Middlebrook takes up duties as Hello!'s publisher on March 20
Rogers recently announced the appointment of Shelly Middlebrook as Hello!’s publisher; Middlebrook, who starts March 20, was most recently a sales manager at CBC Television and before that was executive vice-president at Brunico Communications. Peter Willson, formerly Rogers’ director of retail sales, was named associate publisher and consumer marketing director in January.

March 9, 2006
Paper price hike expected in April
TORONTO—Canadian plant closures, lockouts, a strong dollar and high energy prices are some of the factors driving a paper price hike expected to kick in next month.

“I’ve heard that, come April, there will be an increase,” says Maria Mendes, Transcontinental Media’s manager of print production. She expects an increase of 5% to 8% for the stocks she uses, typically 38 lb. to 45 lb. lightweight coated papers. Transcontinental’s largest magazine, Canadian Living, used 8.4 million pounds of paper on text pages in 2005, and 340,000 pounds on cover stock.

Management at the Stora Enso paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., where workers have been locked out since Jan. 25, is waiting to see if a review board approves a 29% rate hike proposed by Nova Scotia Power. Printers looking for magazine-grade stocks from that mill have had to go elsewhere, typically Belgium or the U.S., hence driving up demand.

“We’re going to rely more heavily on European sheets in the future, there’s no doubt about that,” says Bryce Stevenson, paper resources manager at Transcon’s RBW Graphics printing plant in Owen Sound, Ont. “The Canadian paper market is not in very good shape.” Does he expect a rebound? “The indication from anything I’ve read is, no. There’s a prediction out there that [Canadian paper mills] could be no longer in six years down the road.” 

In recent years there have been plant strikes, lockouts or outright closures in Miramichi, N.B., Thunder Bay, Ont. and in Quebec. 

Price hikes tend to be smaller in the case of global publishers. “I’m really fortunate,” writes Linda Melrose, production manager at Reader’s Digest Canada, in an e-mail, “in that we have global contracts in place with a very low yearly increase effective July 1 through June 30, 20007 for the SCA [supercalendered newsprint],

which we run in our editorial well. I have also been quite lucky in that we have had a long-standing relationship with Fraser Paper— they supply our lightweight coated. Prices have been kept quite a bit lower than the market.”

March 7, 2006
Wholesaler conducting consumer survey
VANCOUVER—Canada’s largest magazine wholesaler has hired a Toronto research company to survey what drives consumer sales at the newsstand level.

The News Group president Glen Clark confirms that Mezzanine Business Consulting has been retained to gather consumer behavior/attitude information to assist The New Group’s merchandizing strategy. “We have a very sophisticated category management now with the data warehouse,” he says, “and we’ve hired Mezzanine to keep refining our category management software.” 

The News Group president Glen Clark
A Mezzanine surveyer who interviewed Masthead recently said the company will conduct about 80 to 100 point-of-sale interviews in each of four cities—Toronto and three U.S. markets. An online survey is also planned. The survey and its findings are expected to be completed in April.* 

“You can see where the retailer takes the category seriously and works at it, the sales are up significantly. A good example of that is our own sister company here in Western Canada, Save On Foods. They really knock the socks off competitors in the magazine category,” Clark says. “The reverse is true as well, where you’ve got a retailer who doesn’t care about the category and the sales kind of suck. Our job as wholesalers, really—and this is part of the reason for Mezzanine—is that we want to convince retailers and others that this is a good, profitable category for them, to encourage them to pay attention to it, and work with us on it.” 

*Still awaiting funding approval is a B.C. pilot program to boost newsstand sales of Canadian titles proposed by the Periodical Marketers of Canada (see News Archives, January 31). That initiative was prompted by one of PMC’s largest members, The News Group. 

March 2, 2006
Request-circ PAP subsidy at risk
OTTAWA—It’s just come to our attention that the federal government has released a review of its postal subsidy program, and the news is not good for publishers of request-circ magazines.

Note: This post has been updated. Correct wording appears in red; incorrect wording has been struck through. A response from the CBP has also been incorporated.

The Publications Assistance Program has been undergoing a standard five-year review by Ottawa-based researcher R.A. Malatest & Associates Ltd. for the past year. The Canada Magazine Fund is also under review but the results have not yet been released. 

The Malatest review, quietly released last month, recommends that the PAP subsidy for request circulation, in place since April 2004, be dicontinued reviewed because it “does not align well with the overall reorientation of the PAP, nor does it have a strong economic rationale.” PAP managers (i.e., bureaucrats) agreed to examine the recommendation to kill review the request-circ subsidy (which pays 33% of postal costs on the first 30,000 copies mailed of magazines with a 50+% request circ) and will make their recommendations to senior bureaucrats and Department of Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda by June 2006. 

This is bad news for the Canadian Business Press as many of its members are currently drawing on the subsidy. “CBP has expressed concern that the recommendation is based upon questionable assumptions based on old and incomplete data,” said president Phil Boyd in an e-mail today. “The [study’s] authors themselves admit the limitations of their evaluations based upon similar concerns.  The association is currently seeking clarification on elements of the report and will be making representation to the appropriate organizations when its evaluation is complete.” Boyd is optimistic that DCH will not discontinue the subsidy. “We fully expect the original decision [to include request circ] will be upheld and that request circulation titles will continue to receive what amounts to very modest support,” he said in the e-mail.

Other notable developments contained in DCH’s response to the Malatest report include: (i) PAP officials will conduct a “national reading survey on Canadian periodical reading habits” designed to examine the link between the subsidization (via PAP) of Canadian content and the existence of a “citizenry better informed about Canada;” (ii) those whose PAP subsidies are so small as to make the delivery of that subsidy more expensive than the subsidy itself, will have their eligibility reviewed. About 220 publications (of 1,199) that share the $46.2 million distributed to magazines, newspapers and newsletters in 2003-2004 received subsidies of less than $1,000 totaling about $925,000. Minimum circulation thresholds are one route, with those falling below finding themselves ineligible. DCH says it will study the matter further.    

No word yet on whether the total size of the PAP subsidy will be increased. Intense lobbying by Magazines Canada to boost the overall size of PAP due to increased draw on the program (including draw from ethnic, arts and request-circ titles) has yet to conclude. Incoming DCH Minister Oda, in office now for little more than a month, has yet to show her hand regarding the government’s magazine policy.

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