Just got back from two icy days in Ottawa where I was privileged to be a block away from Parliament for the historic first defeat of the minority Liberal government’s legislazzzzzzzz, oh sorry, I drifted off for a second there.
Anyway, I was presenting at “Creating Canada,” a symposium sponsored by the Canadian magazine industry to discuss—in front of policy folks—the ins and outs of why Canada’s magazines deliver Cancon better than any other medium (yet still can only claim a 41% market share in their own country). Better than any other medium, you say? Think of the last time you saw a Canadian film playing at yer local big box multiplex.
Mentioned again and again during a daylong session was the fact that whenever you walk into a magazine store, you have to search through the back of the racks to find anything telling a Canadian story. Why? Well, obviously the front of the racks cost big money, and American and British mags can pay the big money. That’s why Brad and Jen’s break-up seems so much more important to the casual observer than does, say, just about anything covered by THIS Magazine.
During a Q & A later in the day, I thought I’d play Mr. Naïve, and floated the idea of Heritage simply sponsoring legislation to reserve a portion (or all) of the front shelves of magazine racks for Canadian publications. A sort of a Cancon requirement, like that used for radio airplay.
Predictably, the free marketeers in the room pointed out that the racks are privately owned and should be left to make whatever money they can by whatever means. Fair enough, but these same free marketeers had no problem asking for public money to better compete in buying those premium placements on the racks. If we really were to leave this important Canadian cultural industry to sink or swim on its own in a wide-open marketplace, I predict the sinking option – so, what’s wrong, exactly, with forcing People Magazine to back off my sightlines a bit so I can get a better look at Geist?
Flagpoles can also be privately owned, but isn’t there some insistent little requirement to fly the maple leaf higher than, say, anything else?