Mark your calendars. The Department of Canadian Heritage has announced locations and dates for the roundtable discussions concerning the proposed overhaul of the Canada Magazine Fund and Publications Assistance Program (see Jan. 25 upload).
The locations and dates for the roundtable discussions are as follows:
Montreal-February 27 and 28
Toronto-March 3 and 4
“We are holding two meetings in Montreal and Toronto because of the high concentration of stakeholders in those cities,” DCH officials said. “The first of the two meetings in each of those cities is for individual stakeholders, such as magazine publishing companies, and the second is for associations.”
(Those who don’t receive invitations or are unable to attend the roundtables can submit written comments to DCH through e-mail, fax or by letter-mail. Go to http://www.pch.gc.ca/pc-ch/consultations/fcm-cmf/index_e.cfm for more info.)
One of the most important discussions will centre on how much funding the new program/s will offer. No dollar figure is mentioned in the DCH document. Combined, CMF and PAP are worth about $76 million, although Canada Post’s $15 million contribution to PAP will expire March 31, 2009. According to DCH officials, “The focus of the review is on achieving the best program structure and design. The final program budget remains to be determined, but these consultations will help with that process.”
Reaction from industry leaders
In an interview conducted Friday, Magazines Canada president Mark Jamison talked about some of the challenges the industry will face when negotiating and discussing the new program. “How do we work together to make sure that everybody’s in the bowl on the other side of this thing?” he asked rhetorically. Later in the interview, Jamison said long-term vision for the industry is essential for successful negotiations. “We should be focusing all our attention on where we need to get to, not where we’ve been.”
The April 25 deadline is a “short window” for discussions to take place, Jamison said. He also expressed concern that events beyond the control of the periodical industry and the DCH, such as a federal election, could “derail the whole process.” The challenge of approving and implementing the new program makes “that Canada Post deadline on PAP loom very large and ugly,” he added.
DCH officials said they are working to have a new program in place for March 31, 2009.
In an e-mail to b-to-b publishers sent Monday, Canadian Business Press president Phil Boyd announced CBP “is preparing a position paper on behalf of specialized Canadian business and professional publishers for presentation to senior officials of Canadian Heritage.” Trade press publishers (both CBP and non-CBP members) have been asked to provide answers to the ten questions posed by DCH in its discussion paper. The responses will “augment CBP research conducted in 2007 and help formulate an industry position for presentation in Ottawa by CBP Directors.”
One of the players going to bat for smaller publishers will be Wallie Seto, president of the Independent Publishers Association of Ontario and publisher of Career Insider Magazines. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Seto said. “It’s a wait-and-see right now.”
Eric Conroy, publisher of The Magazine, which last year lost $40,000 in CMF funding when it missed its quota of Canadian content by 1% to 8 %, said he’s encouraged DCH is considering whether small magazines deserve a bigger share of grants. As for whether his magazine will once again receive funding under the new program, Conroy said he’s “prepared to live with whatever they come up with. What the hell else am I going to do?”