Community newspapers were the big winners when the federal government announced changes to the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) that will result in 100 additional Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) members receiving support from the program.
Earlier this year, the government announced that it would be modifying the program and at the time indicated that they would be cutting subsidy in all areas. Over the spring, CCNA’s PAP Committee and staff had a number of meetings with both officials at the Department of Canadian Heritage and Heritage Minister Sheila Copps’ staff to argue for increased support for the community newspaper industry. This culminated in Minister Copps’ speech to the CCNA conference in late May, where she indicated that there would be an increase in support for community papers.
While total expenditures for PAP will be reduced from $49.4 million to $45.5 million, the amount available to community papers will double from $4 million to $8 million. The big losers were large consumer magazines such as Chatelaine and Macleans, whose postal subsidies will be cut by 30 per cent. As well, some magazines, such as TV Guide, will no longer be eligible for PAP. This is a victory for CCNA who had argued that they did not contain the “high levels of Canadian editorial content” requirement for eligibility in the program.
Under the new eligibility requirements, the objectives of the program remain the same:
ÔÇó To reduce the cost of distributing Canadian community newspapers within Canada.
ÔÇó To increase Canadian readers’ access to community newspapers with high levels of Canadian editorial content.
Currently the program provides $4 million of support to weekly newspapers serving communities of less than 10,000. However, as of the beginning of August, $3 million of additional funding will be available for newspapers serving communities with populations of up to 25,000, as well as newspapers publishing less frequently than weekly – between 12 and 56 times per year. This will mean that PAP will be extended to cover over 100 additional CCNA member newspapers.
Under the program, eligible publishers receive funding through an account established for them at Canada Post, and the Department of Canadian Heritage pays 47 per cent of the cost of mailing. After mailing, the publisher will receive a detailed statement explaining the overall cost of mailing and the amount that was paid by the program.
In order to be eligible, newspapers must meet a number of criteria. They must contain at least 80 per cent Canadian editorial content and no more than 70 per cent advertising content. They must be published under a common title no less than 12 times and no more than 56 times a year, including special editions. The newspaper must have been in operation for one full year and completed at full publishing cycle. The newspaper must be owned and controlled by Canadians and be edited, designed, assembled, published and printed in Canada and have at least 50 per cent paid circulation. The newspaper must have a per-issue circulation of 25,000 or less and serve a geographic community with a population of 25,000 or less.
New applications to the program will take about five months to process, and every participant is required to make a full application every three years and to provide annual verification.
Under the modifications to PAP, there are also additional provisions for ethnocultural, aboriginal, and minority official-language publications, a number of which are CCNA members.
Up to now, the program has provided $1.2 million to about 70 ethnocultural, aboriginal and minority official-language publications. As of July 2003, the definition of ethnocultural magazines and newspapers has been changed to:
“A Canadian newspaper or periodical that is primarily targe