Masthead News Archives
January 2001
January 31, 2001
AutoRoute still stranded
TORONTO—Canadian Tire Corp. has yet to decide whether to resume sponsorship of AutoRoute magazine, a quarterly publication distributed to Canadian Tire’s Auto Club members. “It’s still under review by upper management,” says Canadian Tire spokeswoman Julie Bond, adding that a decision could be made within a month. The magazine, which launched in 1989 and was published in both English and French, suspended operations last July. Circulation exceeded 200,000. AutoRoute is published by Toronto-based Morris Marketing and Media Services. Annual ad revenue was a healthy $1 million, says publisher Rod Morris.

January 30, 2001
Boating mags sold
KESWICK, Ont.—It’s come to light that Rod Morris has sold his 50% interest in Ranmor Publishing Inc., owner of Today’s Boating and Quebec Yachting magazines. The deal closed last November. Morris said he received the equivalent of “eight times EBITDA” for his stake in the company. The new owner is Dual Media Productions Inc., a division of publicly traded Axia Net Media Company (TSE, AXX), the makers of Power Boat Television which airs on Speedvision. Axia is based in Keswick on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe, a prime boating venue. As of the January issue, Today’s Boating is now called Boats&Places Magazine to complement the launch of a new television show, Boats & Places. There are no immediate plans to change Quebec Yachting, said Andy Adams, Dual Media’s general manager of client services.

CMPA unveils $300,000 Web site
TORONTO—The Canadian Magazine Publishers Association (CMPA) officially launched its new Web site magOmania.com at its annual cocktail party last night. A clarion soundtrack from the original Star Trek series played as the site’s home page was projected against a wall to much applause. Designed essentially as a search engine, magOmania.com ferrets through CMPA member magazines to yield desired content. The idea is that visitors will be so impressed by the search results that they’ll subscribe to the magazine. The site—which will soon be able to accept online subscription orders—was funded by twin $150,000 grants from the Ontario government and the federal Department of Canadian Heritage. In her address to the 150 or so attendees, Ontario Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation Helen Johns said that she looked forward to “many more partnerships” with the magazine industry, noting that 60% of all Canadian magazines are located in Ontario.

January 29, 2001
The Canadian Forum nears fundraising target
MONTREAL—The magazine that intends to raise $1.25 million to relaunch as Canada’s answer to Harper’s magazine is approaching the finish line. “We’re three-quarters of the way there,” says Philip Cercone, a long-time friend of Forum publisher James Lorimer. “We’d like to bring closure to this by the end of [February].” Cercone, executive director of Montreal-based McGill-Queen’s University Press, says he’s been meeting with Lorimer fortnightly since The Canadian Forum suspended publication last summer.

CMF extension for small mags
OTTAWA—The second deadline for applications to the Small Magazines component of the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF) has been extended to March 31 from Feb. 9. Participation in the first round of applications, which were due in before Dec. 1 last year, was high and has created bottlenecks. Also, incomplete applications are causing delays as CMF staff seek to obtain the missing info. Publishers are urged to adhere to project proposal outline requirements as listed in Appendix A of the Applicant’s Guide.

January 26, 2001
Shift appoints new editor
TORONTO—Multi-Vision Publishing (MVP) announced today that Neil Morton has been promoted from within to serve as editor-in-chief of Shift magazine. He replaces Laas Turnbull, who stepped down last month to develop his own publishing consultancy.

Morton, 29, was co-editor of MVP’s sponsored titles Pursuit (Imperial Tobacco) and Expressions (Acura). “I’m still a bit shell-shocked,” he says, admitting that he only decided to apply for the job this week. He plans no major changes but notes that four editorial and two production positions remain unfilled.

Morton worked at Shift as chief of copy and research in 1998/99 before joining in-theatre magazine Famous as deputy editor. He joined MVP last May. Notably, Morton co-founded and continues to operate myvideogames.com—a popular Web-based magazine covering the digital entertainment industry.

Morton is a native of Peterborough, Ont., and a graduate of Ryerson Polytechnic University’s School of Journalism. Look for a profile of Shift's new editor-in-chief in an upcoming issue of Masthead magazine.

January 25, 2001
Divorce mag woos celebrity columnist
TORONTO—The ex-wife of blowhard sybarite Donald Trump is now a columnist for Toronto-based Divorce Magazine. Editorial director Diana Shepherd says Trump’s graciousness and dignity match the magazine’s message—how to cope and thrive following the divorce process. Shepherd traveled to New York last August and successfully pitched the idea. Trump signed a one-year contract to write a weekly Q&A column for the magazine’s Web site. The online content is then edited to form an “Ask Ivana Trump” column appearing in the quarterly magazine. Trump’s first column appears in the just-released Winter 2001 issue.

January 24, 2001
Listings publications lose $8.3 million in postal subsidies
OTTAWA—Magazines that are essentially a collection of listings will no longer qualify for postal subsidies under the Publications Assistance Program (PAP).

“There are 16 of these publications,” says Chris McDermott, manager of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s periodical publishing programs. Last year, the PAP contributed $8.3 million in postal subsidies, he notes, adding that the policy has been on the books since 1997 but enforcement is just beginning now.

The hardest-hit titles include Transcontinental’s TV Guide and tv Hebdo.

January 23, 2001
Marketers consider national accreditation
TORONTO—The Canadian Marketing Association is considering the feasibility of offering nationally accredited educational courses in marketing. “Some think marketing departments and universities are not particularly current,” says CMA president John Gustavson, particularly in the area of information-based marketing which employs increasingly sophisticated techniques.

A recent CMA survey asked members if they’d be open to the notion of a national training program. Such a program “could fast track high-potential employees and assist more seasoned staff to keep up with the latest trends,” as well as “enhance the image and professionalism of our discipline,” suggests the survey’s primer. The CMA is a not-for-profit organization with 800 member businesses representing 7,000 employees. .

January 22, 2001
Shearer to assist CMPA campaign
TORONTO—Former Saturday Night publisher Jeffrey Shearer has been retained by the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association to help develop the CMPA’s proposed circulation and promotion campaign. The CMPA awaits response from Canada Magazine Fund officials regarding its proposed $8 million campaign. The CMPA intends to boost awareness and sales of Canadian magazines. Shearer is currently director of media marketing at Totum Research Inc. He draws from a varied background of media experience including past appointments as president of Telemedia Publishing from 1986 to 1990, publisher of Saturday Night from 1991 to 1996, and vice-president of marketing at The Toronto Star from 1996 to this past March, when he joined Totum.

January 19, 2001
Custom publisher targets Sports Illustrated
OAKVILLE, Ont.—Formula Publications has been contracted to publish a 60-plus page quarterly glossy on behalf of the Ontario Sport Legends Hall of Fame. To be called Legends, the premiere issue is slated to appear in March and will be perfect bound. About 300,000 copies will be distributed in 100 Sears stores across Canada, of which 66,000 will be available in French. “The mandate of the magazine extends beyond [Ontario’s] border,” says Formula senior vice-president Alan McPhee, adding that the focus will be on excellence and achievement in Canadian sports, past and present. “I think the Sports Illustrated split-run issue has got a lot of people thinking about whether they should be advertising in a U.S. publication with token Canadian content. [With the launch of Legends], they might start saying, ‘Wait a minute, there’s a Canadian magazine full of Canadian content.’”

January 18, 2001
Writers’ group in e-rights dust-up with resurrected magazine
TORONTO—The Periodical Writers Association of Canada has described Books in Canada’s cash-for-content deal with Amazon.com as “outrageous.”

In a statement released yesterday, PWAC president Kathe Lieber said BiC publisher Adrian Stein continues to post freelanced content on BiC’s Web site (www.inscroll.com) in violation of the Canadian Copyright Act. “He is committing a criminal offence, and we intend to assist the writing community to use new provisions of the Act to seek statutory damages against him,” Lieber said. PWAC executive director Victoria Ridout said yesterday that about 25 writers claim their articles have been pasted to the BiC Web site without their permission.

Just hours after PWAC’s statement was released, BiC’s Web site—which had been operating normally earlier in the day—was suddenly pulled offline to be “updated.”

In response to a letter apparently received from Stein yesterday, PWAC’s Ridout released another open letter to the embattled publisher this morning, acknowledging that the offending Web site had been deactivated and expressing hope that Stein would provide “fair compensation to authors for the additional use of their work” that has already occurred and that may occur again in its arrangement with Amazon.com.

Copies of the letter were sent to others, including Amazon.com’s CEO, The Writers Union of Canada, Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps and about 1600 members of PWAC’s e-mail bulletin service.

BiC publisher Adrian Stein could not be reached for comment..

January 17, 2001
Magazine revived after deal with U.S. dot.com
TORONTO—Books in Canada is back. The 30-year-old title disappeared after last February’s issue but is preparing to relaunch this March, says eccentric publisher Adrian Stein, thanks to a “very generous” three-year cash-for-content/sponsorship deal with Seattle-based online retailer Amazon.com. The title will publish monthly through to 2003. “They’re going to give us certain financial wherewithal to get this [magazine] off the ground,” he notes, declining to reveal exact figures.

In return, Amazon.com virtually owns BiC’s inside cover page and gains access to past and future BiC content which will be repurposed online to stimulate the e-tailer’s Canadian book sales. Stein promises that freelancers’ copyrights will be respected. Amazon.com’s Canadian market GM Marven Krug—a Canadian—said yesterday from Seattle that he met with Stein in Toronto late last summer or fall and reached a deal in principle over Chinese dinner.

Stein had approached Amazon a few years back but the fledgling e-tailer was at that time parochial and pubescent, unable to commit to a complex relationship. “We basically had no dedicated resources to the Canadian market ... We were essentially an American online bookseller,” says Krug. Promoted to manage Canadian operations last year, he says Stein’s rejigged proposal held more appeal “because of myself, mainly; we now have someone who can evaluate [Canadian] inquiries of this sort,” Krug says, adding that “Books in Canada was not really in a position to revive itself without outside help.” BiC may also join Amazon’s “associate program”—an arrangement wherein visitors to BiC’s Web site can purchase books from Amazon.com.

Terms of the deal also require Amazon.com to financially assist BiC’s annual First Novel Award, which turns 25 this year. Krug says Amazon’s cash injections give it no right to meddle with editorial content.

BiC editor Diana Kuprel will return and is “extremely enthusiastic” about the relaunch. “I love doing the work,” she says. Her predecessor, Gerald Owen, now Discovery page editor at The National Post and a copy editor at National Post Business magazine, is still owed four months’ salary following his resignation in 1998. Stein said he intends to repay Owen and has repaid several other writers to whom money was owed. Stein also promised that roughly 4,000 BiC subscribers will receive a free one-year subscription for any inconvenience they’ve suffered.

Such grandiose gestures are something of a Stein trademark. The Web site representing his holding company, Ribosome Communications Inc., boasts that its one-title-strong scientific and technical publishing division is “a Reed Elsevier in the making.” Reed Elsevier Inc. is the British-Dutch media conglomerate which, with its 160 titles, is the world’s largest trade publisher.

In 1998, Stein had been seeking to raise $400 billion to finance the construction of a deflective shield with which to protect planet Earth from impact by rogue meteorites.

Relatively speaking, reviving Books in Canada should be child’s play.

January 16, 2001
Privacy official: Respond and ye shall be saved
OTTAWA—Publishers need only insist on privacy in order to receive it, says the federal official overseeing a recent Access to Information (AI) request for applications submitted to the Canada Magazine Fund. (See “Confidentiality breach looming,” Jan. 5)

Department of Canadian Heritage’s AI coordinator Ernie Aumand says he’s received a number of calls from publishers concerned that sensitive financial information contained in their funding applications may be disclosed. Such information will remain confidential, Aumand promised, but only at the request of affected publishers. “I need them to tell me to protect it,” Aumand says. Otherwise, the info will be released. Disputes concerning those bits of information that can or can’t be released under the Access to Information Act are resolved by appeals to the Federal Court.

January 15, 2001
“Not a dime” from Ma Bell, says Cornerstone
TORONTO—When Cornerstone List Managers founder Ossie Hinds sold 60% of his business to Bell ActiMedia in September 1997, it was understood that the Bell division would be a “passive investor” financing the growth of his business. “Primarily, I viewed [Bell] as having deep pockets that could fund our growth and acquisitions,” says Hinds.

Problem was, Bell ActiMedia was so busy focusing on its Internet portal business that it invested “not a dime” in Cornerstone since coming aboard. This led to “frustration,” Hinds admits. “It didn’t make sense for them to own a part of the business.” Bell agreed. Early last month, Hinds reacquired Bell ActiMedia’s 60% stake in the company he founded in 1987. Once again, Hinds owns 100% of Cornerstone.

January 12, 2001
Prestigious leftist journal seeks $1.25 million
HALIFAX—The Canadian Forum has temporarily ceased publication following the July/August 2000 issue. Roughly 5,000 subscribers are standing by. The feisty, left-leaning nationalist journal has been an influential political and cultural weigh station since 1920, showcasing the works of various poets, authors and philosophers. It’s always been a volunteer-driven enterprise but the lack of resources has prompted publisher James Lorimer to take a breather to plot its conversion to a “fully professionalized” publication. An application to the Canada Magazine Fund has been submitted outlining proposals to boost circulation and marketing initiatives. The magazine is owned by the not-for-profit The Canadian Forum Foundation, the trustees of which are Lorimer, who also runs his own book publishing company, and Toronto labour lawyer Aubrey Golden.

Lorimer’s looking at two scenarios: (i) find someone willing to buy the title and give it the relaunch he thinks it deserves (no serious takers here), or (ii) stay aboard and help convert what was Canada’s oldest continually published political magazine into a leading journal of cultural criticism on par with The New Yorker, Harper’s and The Atlantic Monthly.

“Anyone who understands magazines in Canada understands the potential of the Forum,” Lorimer says. He’s seeking to raise roughly $1.25 million to finance a three-year run of first-rate publishing. Annual editorial budgets would weigh in at $275,000—enough to put out 10 quality issues a year for 20,000 paying subscribers. The new Forum’s economy would be subscriber-driven with only 35% of revenue coming from ads. Once the funding is in place, Lorimer says a raft of “magazine professionals” will leave their current posts to affect a Forum relaunch. “People are ready to step forward,” he says.

January 11, 2001
enRoute decides against boycott
MONTREAL—Award-winning inflight magazine enRoute will continue to participate in the National Magazine Awards, says publisher Raymond Girard. An Oct. 23 announcement by the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) declared custom publications such as enRoute ineligible to compete in categories where the book as whole is judged, such as Magazine of the Year. Girard says he found the ruling “arrogant and shortsighted” and initially considered dropping out of the competition altogether. On reflection, however, a decision was made last week to “affect change working with the NMAF as opposed to doing a boycott,” Girard says, adding that he’ll seek a presence on the NMAF’s board of directors. enRoute is produced by Spafax Canada Inc. for Air Canada. Girard says the airline does not finance enRoute; it just provides an audience. While profits are shared, Spafax is responsible for losses should they occur.

January 10, 2001
Shift's subscription list up for grabs
TORONTO-The list of approximately 8,000 paid Canadian subscribers to Shift magazine is being shopped around by bankruptcy trustee Segal & Partners, according to the Trustees Preliminary Report to the Creditors. Conditions of the Dec. 6 sale of Shift to Multi-Vision Publishing hold that if the list can be sold for more than $80,000 (the maximum profit forecasts for the Nov/Dec issue) on the open market, then the proceeds will go to hungry creditors while Multi-Vision Publishing will receive the revenues generated by the Nov/Dec issue-an issue it paid to have printed. Note, however, that Multi-Vision would not own the list of subscribers to its own magazine under this scenario.

If, however, the list does not attract offers exceeding Nov/Dec profits, Multi-Vision will get the list while creditors will receive the revenues generated from the Nov/Dec issue-expected to range from $10,000 to $80,000. A decision on the fate of the list could be made by month's end, says trustee Martin Sole, depending on how many receivables from the Nov/Dec issue are collected.

January 09, 2001
Cahners president to speak at Mags U
TORONTO—The president and COO of one of the largest business publishers in the United States will be speaking at a Magazines University event in Toronto this year.
Brian Nairn of New York-based Cahners Business Information will discuss opportunities and challenges in international publishing at a special Canadian Business Press luncheon on June 5 at Mags U.
Nairn will be familiar to many Canadians—for years he was a senior executive at the Southam Magazine and Information Group.
Cahners is a division of the British-Dutch media group Reed Elsevier Inc., the world’s largest publisher of business magazines. The company traces its roots to the 1855 launch of Iron Age magazine (now New Steel). Among its 160 titles are Publishers Weekly and Variety

January 05, 2001
Confidentiality breach looming
OTTAWA—More than 500 publishers are at risk of having sensitive financial information made public. A Nov. 23 request filed under the Access to Information Act seeks disclosure of Canada Magazine Fund application forms. The identity of the person behind the request is protected under the Privacy Act, but a federal source confirms it is a journalist.

The forms, submitted under the CMF’s editorial component, reveal extremely sensitive data such as financial statements, revenue streams, editorial expenses, salaries, private donors, business strategies to 2004 and a full disclosure of ownership structures.

The Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH) is in the process of notifying applicants of the situation via registered letters. Affected publishers may block disclosure by appealing to the Federal Court within 20 days of the date on DCH’s letter. If that deadline is missed, the information will be released. DCH privacy coordinator Ernie Aumand hopes to get all 515 letters out by next week. He says only 50 have been sent so far. The requested information will be released en masse as soon as late February, he says.

January 04, 2001
Shift's strategic bankruptcy
TORONTO—Shift's Nov. 29 bankruptcy was designed to "preserve ad revenue from the November/December issue," says Shift Multimedia Inc. director Andrew Heintzman. The alternative—protracted discussions with anxious creditors—would have further delayed the sale to new owner Multi-Vision Publishing, which footed that issue's printing bill. Ads were wilting by the hour as the book languished at the printery for want of cash.

Shift directors Laas Turnbull, Carmen Dunjko, Nigel Wright and Heintzman reckoned bankruptcy to be the best way to accelerate the life-saving sale to Multi-Vision and get the issue printed.

While Shift’s indebtedness exceeds $5.3 million, more than $3.8 million appears to have been incurred by Normal Networks before it sold Shift to its employees last July. In addition to a host of freelancers, unsecured creditors include Concord, Ont.-based St. Joseph Printing ($415,000), U.S.-based printer Instant Web Inc. ($53,000), New York City public relations firm The Rosen Group ($43,000) and Canadian circulation manager Indas Ltd. ($38,000). Secured creditors are not making claims. Bankruptcy trustee Segal & Partners Inc. could not be reached for comment.

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