Board reaffirms support for ComBase

The Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) Board of Directors has renewed its support for ComBase.

The Board, which met in Ottawa Nov. 16-17, renewed its support for the readership research project based on a national rollout of the study in the fall of 2002. The project was originally scheduled to roll out in the spring of 2002.

The Board agreed to support ComBase operating overheads from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2002 and will ask regional associations to cost-share the amount. The pilot study for ComBase went into field in September, measuring the markets of Toronto (ON), Red Deer (AB), Yorkton (SK), Killarney (MB), and Campbellton (NB). The markets were selected to represent a variety of population groups and geographical areas.

Discussion of the Board centred around reducing costs and seeking revenue for the study, in order to minimize the potential financial impact on member newspapers. The Board heard that final ComBase pricing is affected significantly by first year start-up costs. The eventual cost to members could be reduced if start-up funding could be found.

ComBase Project Manager Elena Dunn told the Board during a presentation that the total first year cost for the ComBase study would most likely be about $3.11 million. That number compares favourably to other national media studies, including NADbank ($3.75 million) and PMB ($6 million).

The Board agreed to several items that would help to garner revenue for ComBase. The Board agreed to request that each member paper supply two pages of advertising each year for two years of the project. Proceeds from the sale of the advertising space would be applied against the total costs of the project in that year.

“Even if we only get half of what the pages are worth, that’s still $1 million,” said ComBase Project Manager Elena Dunn. “That would be one-third of the total start-up costs of the project.

“The pilot study has been very educational in terms of the length of the study and what will be needed in order to complete it. As it turns out, delaying the study will give the kind of time our supplier needs to look at redefining markets to try and lower the cost,” she said.

The Board also authorized CCNA to approach government for financial support of the startup costs of ComBase.

Reducing the final costs for members was top of mind for the Board during the meeting. The Board examined various member cost-sharing formulas at length and referred the matter to a subcommittee for study. The subcommittee will look at all of the latest information and formulas for the allocation of ComBase costs and then present a recommendation to the CCNA Executive Committee for approval.

There was concern from some Board members that non-members could join ComBase and while they would not pay the initial investment that members had, they would still get the benefits of the study. The Board agreed that in order to participate in the first year of the ComBase study, a publication must be a full or sustaining member of CCNA or associate member of a regional association and must have held that membership status on or before Dec. 31, 2001.

More information on ComBase is available at .