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Action Required: Make a Submission to the Canadian Heritage Consultations by November 25

This Friday, November 25 is Deadline to Contribute to Canadian Content in a Digital World Public Consultations

In April of this year, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly and the Department of Canadian Heritage launched a review of the federal government’s cultural policies and programs entitled Canadian Content in a Digital World. These consultations are open to members of the public and direct stakeholders in Canada’s cultural industries.

We urge members—cultural, consumer or business media—to take part in this important consultation by Canadian Heritage.

Make a submission by this Friday, November 25, 2016 at

The Department of Canadian Heritage published a consultation paper to inform the public consultations. The paper is organized around three “principles.” Each principle then deals with sub-topics, or “pillars.” We are pleased to share here positions and language from Magazines Canada’s formal submission to the consultation, which you may wish to use in your own contribution:

Principle #1: Focusing on Citizens and Creators

Pillar 1.1: Enabling choice and access to content: How can we reflect the expectations of citizens and enable Canadians to choose the content they want to see, hear and experience?

Pillar 1.2: Supporting our creators: How can we fairly support creators in the creation and production of content that stands out? What partnerships will be needed to achieve this? How can we help creators have successful and viable careers in the digital world?

Principle #1: Magazines Canada’s Position:

Magazines Canada believes that policies and programs should be platform-agnostic rather than platform-specific so as to acknowledge and respect citizens’ desire to access content when, where and how they wish to. The way and means by which citizens choose to access and consume content is their choice. Programs should be broad enough to acknowledge this. Policies and programs should not privilege digital over traditional media, and should be open to more digital, cross-cutting and multi-platform applications where possible.

This does not mean that programs cannot continue to be platform- or media-specific (i.e., the Canada Periodical Fund is designed with the specific needs and context of the magazine sector built into it, and it would not make sense for it to be broadened to other sectors).

Because citizens/audiences have so much choice in terms of what content they experience and how they experience it as a result of evolving digital technologies, and because policies and programs going forward should aim to be platform-agnostic, we should place a premium on investing in Canadian content creation. Outstanding content transcends the technological platform upon which it is presented. And, as digital platforms continue to evolve or become obsolete at an accelerated pace, the priority should be in supporting content creation, not the “format” or means through which that content is delivered.

We should therefore place a premium on investing in Canadian content creation, regardless of platform or sector silos: the importance of businesses, institutions and the supportive ecosystem of the cultural industries is just as important as support for individual creators: programs should be designed with the entire ecosystem in mind and not simply focused on individuals: magazines are more than the sum of their parts.

Priority should be placed on supporting current creative industries to adapt and pivot through increased capacity development (including focused trainings, webinars, and consult support programs), professional development supports (including conferences and delegations), and collective marketing initiatives (to promote Canadian content, grow market share, and ensure discoverability in an incredibly competitive environment). Associations and industry groups play a critical role in ensuring broad reach and return on government investment.

Principle #2: Reflecting Canadian Identities and Promoting Sound Democracy

Pillar 2.1: Redefine Canadian content for contemporary Canada: With so much online content available today and given Canada’s diverse and multicultural makeup, does the concept of “Canadian content” resonate with you? What does “Canadian” mean to you? Do we need to be more flexible in how we support the production of content by Canadians?

In an ultra-competitive, global market, how can the private sector support the production of content made by Canadians? What is the role of Canada’s national cultural institutions, such as CBC/Radio-Canada and the National Film Board?

Pillar 2.2: Strengthen the availability of quality information and news in local markets: What models can we build to support the creation of and access to local information and news in a global context?

Principle #2: Magazines Canada’s Position:

Canadian magazines reflect the full diversity of Canadian communities and populations, consumer attitudes and interests, and audience needs (news, views, entertainment).

Magazines are strong purveyors and champions of Canadian content by showcasing and giving a platform to Canadian voices and Canadian stories: as trusted brands already operating across multiple channels, the brands of magazines need to be strengthened and enabled to compete in print, digital and across multiple channels to ensure Canadian content and perspectives are discoverable in light of globalized digital content.

Canada’s magazine brands produce news information and local, subject-specific content that is credible and reliable, and which reaches a diverse range of very specific communities (whether geographic, ethnic or artistic).

Canadian magazines are uniquely positioned for “long-read” / investigative journalism, news and reports (where other legacy media have lost some capacity and new digital media have not yet invested). This is critical for our democracy.

Canadian magazines work against the fake news or algorithmic filtering of information that social media and the internet sometimes promote by presenting critical, well-researched content that challenges our thinking and opens up our perspectives to new ideas and ways of seeing the world.

Principle #3: Catalyzing Economic and Social Innovation

Pillar 3.1: Positioning Canada as a culture and digital content leader: Canadians make great content; how can we build our exceptional cultural industries and support the growth of new creative enterprises as part of Canada’s innovation agenda? What tools do the government and the private sector already have at their disposal? What new tools could we consider?
How do we incent more risk-taking from creators and cultural entrepreneurs?

Pillar 3.2: Leveraging Canada’s national cultural institutions: How do we ensure that our national cultural institutions, such as the CBC/Radio-Canada and the National Film Board, are a source of creativity and ingenuity for the creative sector more broadly?

Pillar 3.3: Promoting Canadian content globally: What is needed to best equip Canadian creators and cultural industries to thrive in a global market and exploit the country’s competitive advantages? In a global market, what conditions need to be in place to encourage foreign investment in Canada’s cultural industries? How can we better brand Canadian content internationally?

Principle #3: Magazines Canada’s Position:

There are a number of opportunities to build our cultural industries, in particular through supporting the content creation ecosystem here in Canada. From a magazine media perspective, in both print and digital, there is a diverse set of skills and positions clustered around the production of a single magazine. From a broader economic vantage, this “ecosystem” approach acknowledges and can better reward the creation of quality skills-based jobs for the middle class. Further, establishing thresholds or minimum requirements for “Canadian content” could take into consideration not only creator-individuals, who may be in the spotlight, but also the broader community of actors, investment and businesses which are supporting and enabling that creative product in reaching the marketplace.

Current tools that work: The Canada Periodical Fund’s Aid to Publishers component provides stability to many multi-channel media companies invested in magazine brands; it could be expanded to support both print and digital brands if reliable and accessible measurement systems were in place. The CPF’s Collective Initiatives component has supported professional development and collective marketing efforts.

Increasingly, magazines are multi-channel media companies with output on various unique platforms and media, from print to social media. They support a broad ecosystem of skills (from editorial and art direction to videography and IT). The new skills they need may come from outside the traditional journalism or publishing realm: they may be in virtual reality or information technology, as just two examples. Our national institutions can play a role in helping to bring together and foster cross-platform partnerships and opportunities, in addition to the sharing of archived content and material.

Magazines need more accessible marketing supports to promote their Canadian magazine brands (on all platforms) for domestic and targeted export markets, so that consumers discover and see Canadian magazine brands in everyday life: support programs need to better enable collective marketing and discoverability initiatives developed by the sector itself.

Magazines want to explore export markets—however only “safe” sectors (books, music, film) have historically enjoyed dedicated support under export programs. A majority of Magazines Canada members say they are currently exporting or would like to. More needs to be done to earmark export funds for other cultural sectors, including magazines, or to open existing funding programs so they are more universally applicable among Canada’s cultural industries.

For more information:
Melanie Rutledge
Director, Government and Industry Engagement
Magazines Canada


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