Canadian Heritage’s Cultural Policy Survey Closes May 27

Dear members,

As reported in April, Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly has initiated a review of all cultural policies and programs in Canada. There has not been a comparable policy review in decades, if not generations: everything is open for comment—from the CBC’s mandate to our very own Canada Periodical Fund. Magazines Canada continues to be at the forefront of these debates: from meeting regularly with Members of Parliament and officials within the department, to recent testimony before the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

This current online pre-consultation is open both to members of the public and direct stakeholders in Canada’s cultural industries. It only takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. We encourage members of the Canadian magazine sector—whether cultural, consumer or business media—to participate in this consultation by this Friday, May 27.

Below is some language and context you may find helpful as you complete the survey.

The main themes and issues facing Canadian magazine media include:

The continued diversification into digital platforms is often challenged by reaching and/or effectively measuring audiences;

Revenue from legacy print continues to be the core resource base for Canadian magazine media but it is declining, while the ability to monetize digital platforms remains limited; and

The need to support Canadian voices for Canadian choices means that we must support a creative class: including content creators, editors, and the financially-viable businesses which cultivate and enable them.

A 250-word summary of what the Canadian magazine media sector sees ahead:

Since 2000, Canada has witnessed declines in newspapers and the rapid growth of digital, mobile and content-streaming platforms. However, during that same period, Canada has also seen a 30% increase in the number of domestic print magazine titles, a doubling of newsstand market share (from 17–34%), and modest growth in the number and incidence of magazine readership across all platforms. Eight in ten Canadians read magazines, and 92% of those read in print or across both print and digital platforms. Canadian magazine media were among the earliest adopters of digital platforms; a majority of Canadian magazines now operate their brands across multiple complementary platforms: including print, digital, mobile, social media, as well as via events, conferences and “experience-based” audience engagement.

Looking forward over the next ten years, there is little evidence to suggest that magazine media will be consumed exclusively via digital channels: readers are looking for culture and information in varied and multiple streams: print, mobile and live experience are all included. The question is not whether magazines should be print or digital—with consumer preference what it is, the question instead is how to support both print and digital.

A major component of the Canadian magazine sector’s success and ability to adapt to diversifying readership has been the Canada Periodical Fund. This is an essential program which works because it is so specifically tailored to magazine media.

Regarding the export of Canadian content, from a Canadian magazine media perspective:

Canada’s magazine media have sound potential for the export of Canadian content through both digital and print platforms. However, the two platforms would have different strategies: print magazines likely have a far more viable commercial model for trade in “products,” while digital export is harder to monetize in today’s market but does allow for the dissemination of individual content pieces (e.g. an article) that could be aggregated outside a given magazine brand or distributed piecemeal by that magazine. Any current export is done in isolation by brands: there haves been few opportunities to share lessons learned or best practices within Canadian magazine media. The Canadian magazine media sector would need support to develop an international strategy, identify key target markets and success measures, and support new entrants in exploring and developing relationships in these markets. The experience of some innovative Canadian magazines show this can be viable. The Foreign Rights Marketing Assistance Program (FRMAP) for Canadian book publishers, administered by Livres Canada Books, may provide a model for a customized program for Canadian magazine media.

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