27 January 2012
Canada Post losing Pub Mail volumes faster than industry decline
TORONTO—A Masthead analysis of ABC circulation figures suggests Canada Post is losing mail volumes faster than overall industry circulation declines as publishers increasingly turn to other distribution channels including single-copy sales, bulk distribution and newspaper inserts.

In the last five years (June 2006 - June 2011), overall magazine circulation has declined 10.7% among ABC member magazines. (Not all magazines are declining.) But the volume of magazine distribution through mailed subscriptions has declined 18%. The volume of magazine circulation through other methods has actually increased 3.1%.

The results were recently presented at a Toronto chapter meeting of the National Association of Major Mail Users.

  June 06 ABC June 11 ABC % Change
Total circ per issue 10,936,189 9,770,947 -10.7%
Total subscriptions 7,148,184 5,863,705 -18.0%
Total through other  3,788,005 3,907,242 3.1%

 
"If the ABC numbers are indicative of the entire industry, they suggest a couple of things," says Masthead publisher Doug Bennet. "One, the higher-than-inflation price increases at Canada Post over that time may be a disincentive. Secondly, the changes in funding formulas introduced by the new Canada Periodical Fund may be having an affect."

Under the old postal subsidy program, only paid-circulation magazines sent through the mail received a subsidy (though paid single-copies counted towards reaching the minimum 50% paid threshold to be eligible). Under the new CPF, magazines sold on newsstands also count in the funding formula, giving more incentive for publishers to use single-copy channels to leverage funding.

In 2009, Canada Post withdrew its $15 million contribution to the postal subsidy program. The CPF, which launched in 2010 and replaced the postal subsidy and old Canada Magazine Fund, makes no stipulation on how publishers must distribute their magazines in order to receive funding. The key criteria are based only on paid or direct-request circulation levels.
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