January 31, 2006
Wholesalers propose B.C. pilot project
TORONTOThe Periodical Marketers of Canadaa group representing wholesalers who control 89% of newsstand sales in Canadawill seek government funding to launch a pilot project designed to ultimately boost “the presence, from coast to coast, of French and English Canadian magazines on the newsstand through more effective use of the mass market wholesale distribution system.” The proposal is contained in a study by PMC executive director Ray Argyle, released quietly last month; it’s based on interviews with wholesalers, national distributors, publishers, retailers and industry associations, “in addition to a broad literature review.” The Department of Canadian Heritage contributed key funding for the 9,000-word study, “The Newsstand Channel: Opportunities and Challenges.”
The PMC’s member wholesalers, such as The News Group and Metro News, represent $667 million in magazines sold at newsstands in Canada; the PMC estimates total Canadian newsstand sales at $750 million. Of that total, the study estimates that $106 million in sales are generated by Canadian titles; about 6.7% of the 2,591 titles supplied to retailers by the PMC each month are Canadian.
The study points out the often-overlooked fact that without the importation of foreign magazines, there would be no newsstand channel in Canada. “The income streams from these [foreign] sources serves to ensure the continued existence of a viable national marketing channel for Canadian publishers,” Argyle writes. The challenge is: how to increase sales of Canadian titles on Canadian newsstands? Argyle found that: (i) publishers want to increase their newsstand sales; (ii) distributors want to increase the sales of their domestic clients; and (iii) “retailers, who exercise control over title selection, stated their high regard for the quality of Canadian magazines and their desire to partner with Canadian publishers in further developing the single-copy market.”
However, the study found that “[v]arious sectors of the industry continue to express a degree of mistrust toward each other. This is a situation that can only be addressed by an open willingness of all parties to recognize each others’ concerns, and to work toward addressing them.” Hence the B.C. pilot project, which would focus on single-copy sales of regional magazines based in B.C.
The PMC proposes a “Best of Canada” marketing program, including public promotions, enhancing retailers’ awareness of Canadian titles and building publishers’ skills in engaging the mass market as well as bringing the talents of wholesalers to bear. “The next step is that we will shortly be submitting a proposal to secure [Canada Magazine Fund] support for the B.C. pilot program,” said Argyle in a recent interview. “We hope to roll it out in the second half of this year.” The magazines involved would include Vancouver, Western Living, BC Business, Gardens West, Business in Vancouver, Okanagan Life, Porch, Geist and Pacific Golf.
January 26, 2006
Chatelaine loses two more, but gains one
TORONTOAfter almost five months of searching for someone to succeed Kim Pittaway as editor of Chatelaine, staffers found out yesterday that executive editor Beth Hitchcock is quitting. Her last day will be Feb. 3. She joined Rogers’ largest magazine in 1999 as an associate editor. She has been serving as acting editor since Kim Pittaway resigned in August following editorial interference from upper management. “The last few months have been really hard,” Hitchcock says, “We’ve been understaffed, so it’s been hard shouldering that. I’ve done the best I can but…I think it’s time for me to try something new.” Her plans? “I’m now taking calls,” she joked. “I’m terrified slash excited.”
Responding to an e-mail query last week regarding when Pittaway’s successor might be selected, Chatelaine publisher Kerry Mitchell said the company has “been conducting a thorough search for the next editor-in-chief and I do look forward to making an announcement soon.” Says Hitchcock: “We’ve been hearing ‘soon’ for a while. I hope for the staff’s sake that it’s soon.”
Also quitting is senior designer Kim Zagar (art director Caren Watkins quit last month). Zagar joined the title last summer and will be leaving at week’s end. “I just really want to go back to the freelance lifestyle,” she said, noting that she will continue to do work for the magazine.
Chatelaine did, however, gain a body this week. Craig Offman will assume Hitchcock’s title of executive editor. Married with three kids, he has worked for Wired, Vanity Fair, Salon, Variety and Time. Offman, a Canadian, attended McGill University, Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of Harvard’s Radcliffe Publishing Course. He recently relocated to Canada from the States and started at Chatelaine on Monday.
January 23, 2006
January 19, 2006
Rogers wins bid for Canada Post mags
MONTREALAfter an 11-year absence from the shelter category, Rogers Media announced yesterday that, thanks to a distribution deal with Canada Post, it’ll be adding a twist to the category in September 2006just in time for the Christmas rush.
Last summer, Canada Post invited publishers to propose a magazine designed for those who’ve recently changed addresses (see News Archives, Aug. 23, 2005)roughly 1.2 million Canadians do so each year. Yesterday, Rogers announced that it had won the bid and that it would be (i) relaunching Canada Post’s service-oriented Smartmoves/Déménageur magazine on April 3 (frequency three times a year, total circ 1.2 million; will sell advertising ); (ii) launching a new, yet-to-be-named shopping/shelter magazine with a controlled circ of 200,000 English-language copies and 50,000 French-language copies produced by Rogers’ bilingual editorial team based in Montreal, and will sell ads and sell on newsstands. This over-sized, perfect-bound shopping-décor hybrid will publish three issues this year and six in 2007. “This is a brand that we will own,” said Rogers senior vice-president Marc Blondeau, of the unnamed magazine; Smartmoves/Déménageur is owned by Canada Post. Blondeau declined to share the terms of the contract or whether Canada Post would be sharing in the profits, should there be any.
Blondeau noted that privacy legislation prohibits the post office from sharing the names of recipients with Rogers, however, when recipients of the décor magazine opt in for a paid sub, their identities would then be added to a Rogers’-owned list.
“We have wanted to be in this category for a while,” said Blondeau in an interview this morning. Indeed, the last time Rogers (which acquired Maclean Hunter in April 1994) had a shelter book was in December 1994 with a glossy called City & Country Home. C&CH launched in 1982 and did well in the gloriously decadent 1980s but the rafters cracked in the recessionary early 1990s and Rogers killed the title in December 1994, around the same time that Telemedia rebranded Canadian Select Homes into the now-successful Style at Home. The shelter category has posted consistent double-digit gains for the past five years, according to LNA Canada. Blondeau says the contract to produce the new titles mean the creation of 18 full-time positions, with the search on for the publisher and editor. The publisher will report to Chatelaine publisher Kerry Mitchell, who will report to Marc Blondeau, while Lise Ravary, recently appointed editorial director of all Rogers’ women’s titles and new projects, will oversee the editorial side.
Some might wonder how Rogers, which has in the past denounced Canada Post as a rapacious, rate-hiking monopoly, can so easily climb into bed with the same, heavy-breathing beast. “We still have our grief about the Publications Assistance Program and postal rates,” said Blondeau, “[but] they went to tender wanting to do this and we’ve done our homework and were able to successfully sign this contract, which doesn’t mean that we don’t have conflicting views on postal rates…We’ll be paying regular postal rates [on the new title]…and so I think it will open their eyes as to what this means in terms of postal rates and the cost of [putting out] a magazine.”
January 17, 2006
Former Saturday Night editor to oversee city mag
VANCOUVERAfter a week of rumours that an editorial shake-up was in progress at Transcontinental Media’s glossy city magazine, Vancouver, the company announced yesterday that it had indeed fired its editor.
Gary Stephen Ross lands a job closer to home
January 12, 2006
Abandon Food&Drink , grant tax credit, gov’t told
TORONTOOntario Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan asked Magazines Canada what he could do to strengthen the industry, and the industry has answered.
In a document submitted to Duncan on Dec. 15, Magazines Canada recommended that the provincial government do the following: (i) stop subsidizing Food & Drink magazine with taxpayers’ money, and (ii) put us on par with other tax credits already offered to television, film, music and digital media.
Food & Drink is the 523,000-circ controlled-circ glossy bimonthly that sells millions of dollars worth of inexpensive advertising (CPM of $33) in competition with private sector publishers, such as Vines (CPM of $147). F&D is published by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the booze monopoly operated as an agent of the provincial government.
As for the tax credit, Magazines Canada has been going after it for years, and each year it never turns up in the budget. This time, however, the association has released detailed recommendations as to what a tax credit might look like. It considers two scenarios: a credit based on operating expenses, and a credit based only on labour expenditures. The total tax credit available to the average Ontario magazine, when based on operating expenses would be $90,000 (20% of the first $200,000; 10% of the next $500,000); the credit when only labour expenditures are allowed would be $41,447 (same formula but the discrepancy is because average labour expenditures are only about $275,000 per title). Assuming an up-take of 60% in the credit program, Magazines Canada anticipates total savings to publishers at $19 million if operating costs are allowed or $9 million if just labour expenditures are allowed. That money could be reinvested in the operation to grow market share of subscription and newsstand circulation, and therefore advertising revenue as well as open up jobs in the industry, creating a new source of tax revenue for the government that would, the association paper states, far exceed the cost of the actual tax credit.
The province is expected to present its budget next month.
January 10, 2006
Publisher sues client for $5.7 million
CALGARYA publisher is suing Canada’s second-largest airline claiming the carrier breached the terms of a contract.
For six years starting in 1999, Zulu Publications Inc. principal Kevin Parkinson claims to have had a distribution agreement with WestJet to circulate Zulu-owned AirLines magazine. According to the statement of claim filed last Friday in Calgary, Zulu alleges that WestJet (i) interfered with advertising sales, contrary to the terms of the agreement; and (ii) failed to provide sufficient notice to Zulu and terminated the publishing arrangement in September 2004 after Zulu claims to have incurred more than $1 million in media-kit costs and advertising prospect development for 2005.
WestJet subsequently issued an RFP for a new inflight title. Sources confirm that Zulu, St. Joseph Media and Calgary-based RedPoint Media were shortlisted, with the contract going to RedPoint, also named as a respondent in the suit. RedPoint currently produces Up! for WestJet. RedPoint could not be reached for comment, nor could WestJet, though the latter has declined to comment on the case to other media. Zulu is suing for $2.21 million in general damages, $3 million in special damages and $500,000 in aggravated damages.
One independent industry observer who did not want to be identified described the suit as a “nuisance claim” designed to expedite a settlement between Zulu and WestJet, which the two companies failed to reach during negotiations last year.
January 5, 2006
Whyte adds salty batch to the masthead
TORONTOKenneth Whyte continues to assemble his editorial team since becoming Maclean’s publisher and editor in March 2005. Yesterday he announced the arrival of an eclectic mix of columnists, editors and writers.
January 4, 2005
Art director quits Chatelaine