Canadian Community Newspapers Association staff met with Canadian Heritage officials on November 10 to discuss details of the upcoming Canada Periodical Fund.
The new fund is set to replace the Publications Assistance Program and Canada Magazine Fund in April 2010. However, with few procedural details confirmed, CCNA staff raised concerns about the timeline, eligibility, application process, and payment schedule.
Canadian Heritage officials confirmed that eligibility for funding will remain limited to paid-circulation non-daily newspapers and paid- or non-paid request-circulation magazines. CCNA has stated its position to government on numerous occasions—most recently the October 22 CCNA board lobbying day and the November 10 meeting—that the fund should be expanded to accommodate controlled-circulation newspapers. Citing strong readership of both paid- and controlled-circulation newspapers, CCNA representatives pointed out that Canadians rely heavily on their community newspaper, regardless of business model. Canadian Heritage officials indicated that although the paid-circulation requirement could be reconsidered at a future date, the requirement as at launch time has been set.
Canadian Heritage officials also conveyed their concern about the current state of the magazine industry and the impact that even the proposed changes could have on individual titles.
Given the tight timeframe, Canadian Heritage is looking to keep the application process simple and to send payments to publishers as soon as possible. CCNA emphasized that a quick turnaround is critical. Once the tie between the Canada Periodical Fund and Canada Post is severed, publishers will see larger postage bills. Without swift payment from the Canada Periodical Fund, publishers could face serious cash flow difficulties.
With that in mind, Canadian Heritage indicated that it is considering a fast-tracking strategy for PAP participants that would give pre-approval based on a publication’s most recent PAP application. Additional information would be required to reconfirm eligibility and level of support, but the use of the last application would reduce paperwork and processing time.
In addition to the application process, Canadian Heritage officials are examining procedural details such as queues and payment schedules. Scott Shortliffe, director of periodical publishing policy and programs at Canadian Heritage, acknowledged that a gap between submission of the application and receipt of payment is inevitable, but gave his assurance that Canada Periodical Fund staff will do everything they can, especially for small publications, to avoid undue financial hardship.
Canadian Heritage is expected to announce further details about the Canada Periodical Fund in December.
For more information, or if you have any questions or concerns, please visit www.communitynews.ca/pap/ or contact John Hinds, CCNA chief executive officer, at 1-877-305-2262 ext. 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.