Subscriptions to magazines and newspapers have basically been sole to cover the actual cost of printing and distributing the material. You gotta think machine maintenance, paper, and ink stock, and transportation/mailing cost something, and $3/issue in the US sounds about right to break even.
Ads are how the actual content gets paid for. That’s what people don’t understand when they complain about the state of newspapers and magazines. Ads went to more provocative spaces (video/radio ads) or just straight to online communities (think craigslist/Facebook vs classified ads). Publications have been a lurch about this for a while, which is why so many local newspapers are folding.