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Monday, October 10, 2005

Germany: Publisher predicts that "Free papers will bring big financial losses"

German publisher Axel Springer recently announced that it would launch a free paper called Gratissimo in the case that Schibsted or any other publisher launches a free paper in Germany (see previous posting). We asked Christian Nienhaus, managing director of Axel Springer´s Bild publishing group, a few questions in an email-interview about this project.

1. Considering the popularity of free papers in other countries, why is Axel Springer against the publication of free papers in Germany?

Our maxim is: Every day without a free paper is a good day. Journalistic quality has a price and therefore we don’t think highly of free papers. Moreover, we are convinced that there would not be only one free paper in the German market. Because of the enormous competition all participating publishers will face big financial losses.

2. What will be the content of the 24-page Gratissimo? How does Springer plan to differentiate Gratissimo's content from other publishers' free papers?

We are easily able to launch an excellent paper thanks to our broad experience, our editorial resources and our extensive network of correspondents. We have developed a reader-friendly and news-accenting editorial concept for Gratissimo.

3. If Gratissimo is ready to be launched, why doesn?t Springer print it before other publishers enter the market? Does Gratissimo pose a potential threat to Springer paid papers?

Again, we do not want a free paper! But if a competitor starts a free paper, we will not leave the market to him. The danger for our paid-for newspapers would, however, be rather small. Firstly, free papers would not offer the same amount of content and background information and secondly, free papers would only appear in major cities, where only a small percentage of our papers are sold.

4. Apart from price, what will be the difference in content between Gratissimo and Welt Kompakt? Will the two papers be complements or substitutes?

Gratissimo has a completely new and different editorial concept than Welt Kompakt, hence title and target group would not overlap.

5. Do you think that a free paper could help to attract younger readers to newspapers? If launched, will Gratissimo be accompanied by a website and other new media such as podcasting, popular among younger generations?

Whether free papers bring young people to reading newspapers still needs to be proven. We rather trust in the quality and experience of our existing papers. One could call Bild that reaches about 2 million young readers aged 14 to 29 every day one of the biggest youth newspaper in Europe. To maintain our hold on the youth market, we continue to offer a mixture of subjects that are of interest to young readers. Our excellent sport section plays a major role in this, because it is relevant for every generation. Furthermore, other various products of ours, such as the magazines Computer Bild and Computer Bild Spiele, as well as our merchandising activities like the Bild Comic Bibliothek (a series of comic books that are sold under the Bild brand) attract even more new target groups.

Posted by Anna-Maria Mende on October 10, 2005 at 05:12 PM in h. Young readers / New readers, i. Future of print | Permalink


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