Racing sector woes put horse journal at finish line

The “severe contraction” of Canada’s horseracing industry, hitched to the challenges facing print magazines across the country, has put Canadian Sportsman magazine at its finish line after 143 years in print.

The monthly harness racing journal, which has operated uninterrupted since 1870 and bills itself as Canada’s oldest magazine, announced last week that its December 2013 edition will be its last.

The magazine has operated out of Straffordville, Ont., about 60 km southeast of London, since 1989.

“Print magazines face unprecedented challenges in the digital age and the demographics served by the magazine pose their own unique challenges,” Gary Foerster, president of the magazine’s publisher, Canadian Sportsman Ltd., said in a statement.

However, “our major source of advertising revenue has traditionally come from Ontario horse breeders,” he added, and since the Ontario government announced in 2012 it would end its Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP), horse breeders have “suffered dramatic losses.”

The “adverse financial circumstances” breeders and the broader industry now face “have been reflected in our advertising sales and subscription revenue which have plummeted to the point where, after nearly a century and a half, this magazine is no longer economically viable,” Foerster said.

The Ontario government last month announced a five-year, $400 million plan to support horseracing beyond SARP — albeit on what Foerster described as a “vastly reduced scale.”

However, he added, “we do not envision a scenario whereby our publication can continue to exist.”

Further details, including information on subscriber refunds, are to be included in Canadian Sportsman’s December issue.

Canadian Sportsman’s printing division, Sportswood Printing, remains in full operation, the company said.

Sportswood recently underwent a “major expansion” into digital printing and has further expansion plans to be announced soon, the company added. The company also prints hardcover and softcover books, other companies’ equine magazines, and brochures and promotional materials for commercial clients. — Network

Related stories:
Ontario reworks provincial funding model for horseracing, Oct. 11, 2013
Ont. to halt horse racing industry’s slots program, March 12, 2012

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