Masthead News Archives
May 2005

May 31, 2005
Sports publisher to enter receivership
COLLINGWOOD, Ont.—Sports industry trade publisher Rennie Media Inc. is in the process of being sold. President Bruce Morrison announced last week that the 29-year-old company is going into receivership. After spending heavily on a new consumer publication, Outdoor Lifestyle, which never saw the light of day, a major investor withdrew support. Last month, Morrison told Masthead that a private investor pulled out of its project to launch Outdoor Lifestyle due to an unrelated matter just before the 160,000-circ bimonthly was about to be printed. It was scheduled to debut last month. Morrison added that he was speaking to interested parties and hoped to have the publication printed and distributed as soon as possible. However, in a recent Rennie's Sports Letter, Morrison states that the funds required to launch were larger than anticipated, so the project was terminated. According to Morrison a number of long-term Rennie employees are to become part of its new ownership group. “As the current owner and publisher, I am working closely with the new team to bring the business through the receivership process quickly and ensure a smooth transition,” stated Morrison. In the meantime, he says, Rennie will continue to publish its weekly trade newsletter Rennie’s Sports Letter and various directories and magazines, including its What’s New What’s Hot series of publications. Stay tuned to MastheadOnline for updates as this story unfolds.

May 26, 2005
West Coast publisher to buy Business in Vancouver
VANCOUVER—Glacier Ventures International Corp., publisher of technical manuals and farm publications including The Western Producer, has signed an agreement to acquire Madison Publishing Group from Madison Venture Corporation, which has a 33% stake in Glacier Ventures. Remaining Glacier shareholders will vote on the deal, worth approximately $22.3 million, less debt of $4.3 million, on June 10. Madison operates a B.C. community newspaper division and Business in Vancouver Media Group, which publishes weekly business newspaper Business in Vancouver and specialty publications including Home Makeover, Western Investor, the Employment Paper, the Better Business Bureau Pages and Visitor’s Choice. “It’s a good strategic fit for us,” says Glacier CFO Orest Smysnuik, adding that Madison is a sound business that does well financially. Madison posted revenues of $14.7 million for its year-end in February. Smysnuik doesn’t anticipate any significant changes to the company after the planned take-over becomes effective July 1. Glacier plans to raise additional funds through private placement in preparation for future acquisitions, says Smysnuik. “There’s nothing specific [at the moment] but we’re always looking.” At press time Glacier’s share price was $2.60. Glacier acquired The Western Producer in 2002.

May 24, 2005
Vancouver magazines top nominations list
VANCOUVER—Nominations for the 23rd annual Western Magazine Awards were declared last Thursday evening at an announcement party here. Tallying the most nods is Western Living with 12 nominations (including three in the visual category), followed by The Georgia Straight with eight. Avenue, Vancouver and newcomer Calgary Herald’s Swerve each have seven nominations. And three-year-old Vancouver-based skateboarding pub Color racked up five visual award nominations and one for best new magazine. Other multi-nomination winners include Vancouver Review and Prairie Fire (5 each); BCBusiness (4); Event, Geist, The Beaver, Up Here and Alberta Views (3); Border Crossings, Alberta Venture, Humanist in Canada, BlackFlash and Prairies North (2).

Art director and editor Rick Staehling is the Western Magazines’ lifetime achievement award winner. He is a partner of Art & Edit editorial consulting company, editor of Travel Etc. and a film critic for CBC Radio British Columbia. Staehling is also the former art director of Western Living, Vancouver and Equity magazine.

Staehling will be honoured and the winners announced at the Western Magazine Awards ceremony on Friday June 25th at the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harbourside. For a full list of nominees see westernmagazineawards.com.

May 20, 2005
RedPoint Media’s ownership revealed
CALGARY—It’s been over two months since RedPoint Media Group chairman Don Graves made a surprise attempt to buyout his business partner, former president and publisher Dan Bowman, for sole ownership of the publishing company (see MastheadOnline stories for March 22, 24 and April 26). Since that fateful day when Bowman was escorted out of the building, he’s kept the industry in suspense over whether he’ll accept Graves’s offer or match it. The wait is over. Bowman announced today that he’s selling Graves his shares of RedPoint, which they founded in 2003 when Bowman’s Avenue Publications merged with Graves’s Calgary Publishing. “At the end of the day I had to separate emotion from business and make the right business decision for now,” says Bowman, adding that it was particularly hard for him to leave Avenue, an award-winning city mag he launched in 1994. Bowman spent the last two months mulling over whether to buyout Graves or sell his RedPoint shares. He did extensive research in the Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary markets and spoke with publishers and potential business partners from across the country. “I certainly had some opportunities to acquire. I looked at what we’d accomplished and what the variables were within the existing business model and I felt that it was the right thing to conclude to sell.” For now, Bowman plans to relax and travel with his wife and three children before contemplating his next move this fall. Graves was not available for comment.

May 19, 2005
Could budget vote outcome disrupt postal talks?
OTTAWA—The House of Commons is heating up as members prepare to vote tonight on the proposed budget, which if defeated could spark a spring election. But what does all this mean for Canadian magazines? If an election is called and the Liberals lose, Mark Jamison, president of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association, is concerned that the industry’s ongoing postal rate negotiations with the current government and Canada Post could be adversely effected. “It helps to have ministers in place when you’re having a discussion that has political overtones.” It’s anticipated that Canada Post will announce any proposed rate hikes for 2006 in July. A change in government now could mean having to bring new ministers up to speed very quickly on the industry’s serious concerns over significant increases in postal rates (see MastheadOnline story for May 10.) Jamison is not worried, however, about the fate of federal magazine programs such as the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) and the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF). “I’m not particularly concerned about core programs. We have had meetings with the opposition [parties] and discussed their approach to cultural policy… There’s broad support for the PAP program across all the parties. I don’t think the ground is going to shift negatively or substantively if there’s a change in government. I think that the processes are in place to ensure that those programs will carry on through any election or transition.”

May 17, 2005
L’actualité wins big at Quebec mag awards
MONTREAL—At its annual Magazine Day last week, Magazines du Québec announced the winners of Grands Prix 2005. The Quebec magazine publishers awards program honours excellence in magazine editorial, design, promotion and circulation. L’actualité was the big winner of the evening with seven distinctions including the Jean Paré prize for journalist of the year, awarded to L’actualité writer Isabelle Grégoire. Best new magazine journalist went to Christian Benoit-Lapointe for his work in Objectif Conseiller. Québec Science took home the prize for best issue for its October 2004 edition. In circulation, best-selling issue went to TVA Publication’s weekly 7 Jours for its Sept. 11, 2004 edition; Transcontinental’s Fleurs, plantes et jardins won for largest increase in newsstand sales. Rogers’ new shopping title Loulou also walked away with an award for best promotional campaign.

May 12, 2005
ProLogix, Teamsters strike deal
TORONTO—Unionized workers at ProLogix Distribution Services are going back to work on Monday, which is good news for many magazine distributors, wholesalers, retailers and publishers. “We’re very happy they settled their differences and we’re looking forward to going back to our routine...our customers are creatures of habit and know when their favorite magazine is expected to arrive in our stores,” says Gerry Savaria, executive vice-president of HDS Retail. Eighty-one Teamsters members walked off the job three weeks ago after rejecting the company’s contract offer (see MastheadOnline story for April 28). While they walked the picket line, non-unionized part-time ProLogix employees helped operate at the plant. Teamsters Canada Local Union 419 president Tom Fraser says News Group president Glen Clark (a former NDP premier of British Columbia) contacted a mutual friend, national vice-president of Teamsters International Garnet Zimmerman, to resume talks between the two parties. ProLogix is a co-venture between wholesalers The News Group and Metro News. Mitch Massicotte, president of Metro News, sat down with Fraser earlier this week to discuss a new three-year contract, which includes an annual signing bonus and improvements to benefits and pension as well as an agreement to maintain its current part-time versus full-time workers ratio at 2:1. “We got a fair settlement,” says Fraser. “Nothing to spit at.” But it was a close victory, he adds. Members accepted the offer with a vote of 37 to 24. Clark and Massicotte were unavailable for comment.

May 10, 2005
Industry asks Canada Post to pull back on rate hikes
TORONTO—Michael J. Fox, postal committee chair of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association and a senior vice-president of Rogers Publishing has done some major number crunching to discover that Canada Post has successfully balanced its books. Therefore Fox says, “It’s time to ease off on magazine rate increases.” His report states that Canada Post surpassed its goal of a 25% contribution margin—the costs of mailing minus the revenue collected—in 2004 at 27%. And according to Fox’s calculations, which he’s been compiling for four years, Canada Post will hit a 30% margin in 2005. Fox presented his findings to Canada Post executives in Ottawa last week, as they are currently planning next year’s rate increases that should be announced next month. “There’s no regulator that reviews the rates that they set…[This] lets Canada Post know that we’re paying attention to it,” says Fox. For the last five years, Canada Post has been aggressively increasing publications postal rates in an effort to cover operating costs with an annual average rate increase of 5%. Hardest hit were heavy publications, typically women’s service magazines, with an average increase of 10%. While the cost of mailing a periodical has plateaued at $0.34 a copy for three out of the last four years, revenue per piece has increased 30% in five years to $0.47 a copy in 2004, and an estimated $0.50 a copy in 2005. Canada Post has met its goal, says Fox, now it can slow down rate increases. The magazine industry has requested a 1.5% rate increase each year for the next three years. “What we have tried to say is that they are losing volume.” According to data Fox has collected, publications mail volume is down 27 million pieces since 2000. “They are not participating in the growth of the magazine industry. [Publishers] are finding alternate means to get their magazines delivered to people because Canada Post has become too expensive.” If rate increases don’t become reasonable, says Fox, the entire industry will be forced to seriously consider alternative delivery sources.

May 5, 2005
Toronto Life, Walrus, Saturday Night lead nominees
TORONTO—The list of nominees for the 28th running of the National Magazine Awards was released earlier this week. Leading the pack is Toronto Life with a total of 31 nominations (including six in the visual and integrated categories), followed by The Walrus and Saturday Night, tied with 22 nominations each. Other titles collecting multiple nominations include: L’actualité (19), Toro (16), explore (12), Maclean’s (9), Canadian Business (8), Canadian Geographic (8), National Post Business (7), Report on Business (7), Outdoor Canada (6), Chatelaine (5), Cottage Life (5), Maisonneuve (5), This Magazine (5) and Queen’s Quarterly (5).

   Former Maclean’s publisher Paul Jones is this year’s recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. Jones, who will mark his 56th birthday this month, is a 30-year industry vet with deep volunteer links to such organizations as Magazines Canada, the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association and the Print Measurement Bureau. He resigned last year from Rogers Media as senior vice-president and was a driving force behind the launch of MoneySense and the conversion of Canadian Business from a monthly to a twice-monthly publication.

   All the winners will be presented with their awards at a gala event held at the Carlu in Toronto on June 10. For the complete list of nominees, visit www.magazine-awards.com

May 3, 2005
New editors at Transcon’s women’s mags
Toronto—When magazine maven Charlotte Empey decided to step down from her dual role as editor-in-chief at both Canadian Living and Homemakers in February to pursue an academic post at Humber College, it created two rarely seen things in Canada’s relatively small industry: top-level editorial vacancies. They’ve just been filled.
It was announced to staff last week that former Canadian Living managing editor Susan Antonacci, who served as Empey’s sturdy second-in-command for more than seven years, has been promoted to editor-in-chief at the country’s third-largest magazine, as measured by paid circulation (533,000). “I’m really excited,” she said in a brief interview this morning. “Charlotte was my mentor and I work with such a great group of people here. I could not be more fortunate.”
Meanwhile, at sister title Homemakers (fourth largest, paid circ 409,000), former Canadian Living associate editor Kathy Ullyott has been named editor-in-chief. Ullyott could not be reached for comment.
Both magazines are based in Transcontinental Media’s Toronto offices. A challenge for each editor will be one of positioning; Empey had acknowledged that the two titles do tend to bump into each other in the minds of ad buyers and making the two titles distinct was something she worked to rectify. The interview process for each position lasted about three months.

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