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More Change in the House of Heritage?

The Canada Magazine Fund might be altering its rules again


By John Smylie with files from Jamie Griffith

The Department of Canadian Heritage is restructuring the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF), as well as the Publications Assistance Program (PAP), in an effort to address apparent inequities. Changes could involve the amount of funding received, how assistance can be spent, and even program eligibility.

Canadian Heritage’s website shows that the CMF received $45 million to support editorial content, arts and literary magazines, business development for magazine publishers, and industry development for this year and last.

The website also shows the money  went to bigger and better and more well-known publications, but not necessarily to assist the publications with smaller circulations, publications with lower subscription rates, or online editions of magazines.

For example, Maclean’s and Chatelaine received more than $400,000 and $200,000 respectively from the fund between April 2006 and 2007 (for more information see Griffith on the Go), while online-only magazines were left out in the cold.

The CMF does not currently consider the e-zine in the same category as the traditional print magazine, although part of the funding can go towards development of a print magazine’s website.

CMF team leader Gary MacLean says the e-zine issue will be on the table as Canadian Heritage undergoes major changes.

“I am sure funding of online magazines will be raised at these meetings,” MacLean says.

According to its website, Canadian Heritage representatives asked every publication that currently receives funding under the CMF for input before deciding on changes.

MacLean cautions hopeful online magazine editors that it may be some time before it is even known what changes were made. Even then, they may not be implemented until April 2009 at the earliest.

No matter what changes are made to the CMF and PAP, they won’t hurt the Canadian magazine industry, says Jim Everson, executive director of public affairs for Magazines Canada, the trade association for consumer magazines. “I am confident that there will be some improvements. However, the formula is working well. I wouldn’t do much to change it.”