In its counterattack against Sun TV and Quebecor, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation alleges that the Pierre Karl Péladeau media empire has taken more than $500 million in public money over the past three years. Péladeau calls the allegation false and defamatory and is obliquely threatening legal action.
Part of the public money CBC lists concerns funding for Quebecor’s stable of news and lifestyle magazines such as 7 Jours and Clin d’oeil, which CBC claims collectively took $13 million since 2008.
In response, a Twitter friend suggested I look at public funding for the Western Standard, a now-defunct magazine published by now-Sun TV host Ezra Levant.
Levant, of course, is well known to viewers for railing against the $1.1 billion annual federal funding for CBC. He’d like the corporation separated from the public money.
So, a trip through the archives of the Department of Canadian Heritage to a web page called “Publications Assistance Program 2006-2007 Funding,” which shows… Western Standard benefited to the tune of $132,063.
Levant explains that these amounts represent rebates the magazine received in mailing costs.
“We chose not to apply for editorial/production grants,” he said in an email. “Of course we took the postal rebate, without which Canada Post’s monopoly pricing makes publishing magazines impossible.”
Or course, many Canadian magazines receive the subsidy from the taxpayer-subsidized post office to defray the costs of mailing to subscribers. Maclean’s received $1.5 million last year; The Walrus, $261,264. (For the record, I have no idea whether the magazine I once worked for, Frank, collected the same. I would bet on it, though I wasn’t privy to those kind of decisions.)
I’m not sure if Levant is suggesting that mailing his magazine to, say, Uranium City, Sask., or Tar Lake, Alberta, would have been cheaper if Canada Post didn’t have a monopoly on the highly lucrative home delivery postal delivery market.
I’ll leave it to readers to decide whether Levant’s position on CBC is consistent with his magazine taking the postal subsidy.