Paid-for newspapers to become “niche” – Metro chief

Free daily newspapers will over the long-term replace their paid-for counterparts on weekdays, the chief executive of the Swedish free newspaper group Metro International has said.

Pelle Tornberg said 95 pct of paid-for dailies will survive but in a reduced niche capacity with readers preferring to buy them on weekends, the British daily The Guardian reported.

“If you apply the pay TV and free TV [model] to the newspaper industry, then the paid-for newspapers probably have to accept living with smaller circulation and probably increasing their prices, increasing the exclusivity,” Tornberg was quoted as saying.

Metro International, which began with just one free newspaper in Stockholm in 1995, publishes 59 editions in 83 cities today and has seen its revenues soar from 9.6 million dollars in 1995 to 302 million dollars last year.

Metro has papers in most of continental Europe, its most recent additions in Russia and Portugal.