Canadian Magazine Industry News
13 May 2011,     TORONTO
Historic shift as Canadian Business Press votes to change
In a historic shake-up of the magazine industry, members of the 61-year-old Canadian Business Press voted in an extraordinary meeting in Toronto yesterday to close the existing association and reconstitute as a charitable foundation that would own and manage the finances of the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards.

CBP, a storied institution representing and serving the trade press, has faced a difficult few years due to the recession and massive structural change in the industry. It has been losing members to Magazines Canada and to attrition, and veteran trade publishers haven't had as much time to focus on the association as they've been focusing on their businesses.

"We could have kept CBP limping along for a long time," chair John Kerr told Masthead. "But could we truly give members the value they were seeking? What are we chasing the windmill for?"

In a press release today, Kerr adds: "As we looked forward from the past several years experience, it had become evident the scope and scale of the programs we wish to provide to our members are either duplicated elsewhere or will require a tremendous commitment of time by our membership and that the ongoing value we could continue to deliver was going to be sacrificed in favour of maintaining balanced budgets.”

The new foundation will have five directors and will be responsible for maintaining perhaps the CBP's most important asset, the KRW Awards. In the last few years the KRWs have been co-produced by CBP and Magazines Canada. Kerr says that arrangement will continue, though the Foundation (similar to the National Magazines Award Foundation) will own and be responsible for the event's finances.

“The concept and drivers for the foundation are to preserve an existing capital base, allow an operating structure for the KRWs, honour and protect its brand and provide a forum to celebrate the tremendous efforts of so many great publishers who worked tirelessly on the industry’s behalf," said Jim Hall in the release. Hall is CBP's vice chair and president of healthcare publisher Keith Communications in Mississauga.

Kerr said cost-cutting moves are being explored for future years, such as holding the KRWs and National Magazine Awards on the same day at the same venue. The KRWs could be a lunch event, with the NMAs in the evening, he suggested.

This year's KRWs take place June 7 at the swanky Carlu theatre in Toronto. The NMAs take place three days later, June 10, at the same venue. Both are evening events.

Kerr hopes the legal changes and a new charter for the new foundation can be finished by the end of June, coinciding with the end of CBP's first quarter, for which membership dues have been paid. Existing CBP members will become patrons of the new foundation.

It will be up to each CBP member publisher to decide whether they will want to join Magazines Canada, the American Business Media, or other associations for services such as professional development and advocacy. Kerr says each publisher has different priorities and needs, giving the example of medical publishers.

In 2007, Rogers Publishing, a CBP stalwart for decades (as both Rogers and its predecessor Maclean Hunter) put forward a proposal to merge CBP into Magazines Canada. When the CBP board refused, Rogers quit and its trade magazines became the nucleus of a new business-to-business division at Magazines Canada.

In the last few years, several other b-to-b publishers have joined Magazines Canada, including Annex Printing & Publishing and CLB Media (which Annex bought last year).

Asked how he felt about the changes, Kerr said: "This is a tough one. There are some great people who have gone through this industry. But I think it's the best outcome." He has been a chair of the association twice, and his late father Jack Kerr was also chair twice.

Kerr is chair and CEO of Kerrwil Publications, a consumer and trade magazine publisher run by his sister Elizabeth Kerr, president and COO. The company focuses on the marine industry and publishes Canadian Yachting, Boating Industry Canada and several online titles. Canadian Yachting is a member of Magazines Canada.

CBP has about 40 member publishing companies representing about 100 magazines. There is an excellent history of the business press in Canada on the CBP's website here.

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