Ontario to invest in magazines: report

A report by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture has
laid out a entertainment and cluster strategy that includes
recommendations for the magazine industry, D.B. Scott reports on his Canadian Magazines blog.

The report says:

“Ontario’s magazine publishing industry is one of the most stable elements of the Creative Cluster. It has a large domestic market share and a relatively strong financial balance sheet. This success is due in part to the ability of this sector to leverage a highly skilled workforce to meet the needs of many diverse niche markets. That said, with more content moving online, previously inaccessible foreign publications are becoming available to Canadian readers, intensifying the level of competition facing Ontario magazine publishers. Low levels of profitability are also hampering the efforts of Ontario publishers to adapt to the changing digital landscape.”

D.B. Scott provides a handy crib note that outlines report’s six “pillars” for developing the creative cluster (which includes film, television, publishing, music, commercial theatre and digital media):

* Developing private investment and financing, improving access to equity investment and credit.
          -“Without investment capacity, creative industries will not be able to innovate and adopt digital technologies, let alone gear up their development agendas for conducting their traditional business in challenging times.”
*  Developing a global presence and market expansion.
          -“Otherwise, its competitors, who are putting a priority on export market development, will stifle growth or even reduce Ontario’s existing market share.”
*  Foster innovation and digital transition
          – “Ontario’s Creative Cluster must focus on innovation and accelerate the rapid adoption of digital technologies in all aspects of the value chain.”
*  Develop a strong ecosystem
          – “While Ontario has undeniable strengths in the Creative Cluster ecology, there remain gaps and weaknesses that impede it from taking full advantage of the opportunities available” In particular, the suggested strategy is to encourage start-ups and early stage growth and attract, develop and leverage larger “anchor” companies.
* Develop skills and leadership infrastructure
          -“Creative talent and leadership are among the most critical elements of a strong Creative Cluster. Developing and attracting talent that is capable of exploiting the commercial value of its creativity is crucial to ensuring the economic success of a Creative Cluster.”
* Foster industry-government collaboration
          -“While government and industry goals may not always align, industry’s needs must be effectively communicated to government to enable it to act as a facilitator and advocate for conditions conducive to industry growth.”

That’s all well and good, but everyone knows the realities facing the magazine industry are more complex. D.B. Scott lays out the report’s the government’s promise to provide programs and programs to aid creative clusters, including:

    * Providing sustained funding for the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC)
    * Work to provide private sector investment opportunities in the cluster
    * Do research to obtain market and technological information for the sector
    * Enhance the sector’s market share and develop key metrics to ensure the programs are working
    * Advocate with the federal government for a modernized copyright regime and an effective national digital strategy.