Door-to-door War in Denmark [update]

Friday the 18th of August was a bit of a dull day in Denmark. There was not a newspaper launched or annouced that day. There were two the week before, two press conferences with announces on Tuesday, launches on Wednesday, Thursday and next Monday 22. Later that week 365 Media Europe, controlled by Icelandic investment company Dagsbrun (publisher of Frettabladid in Iceland), presented the plans of the paper that started it all: Nyhedsavisen, the door-to-door paper that will launch on October 6. Dagsbrun is also rumored to investigate in other European markets, which makes the Danish example more interesting: will Dagsbrun do for door-to-door distributed free paper what Metro did for public transport free dailies?

Pasted Graphic Nyhedsavisen is also waiting for the Danish Competition Authority to clear the way for the joint venture with Post Denmark (49% owner) for the distribution of the paper. Nyhedsavisen is also developing a user generated online version but it is not yet on The new paper hired 100 journalists for the paper and wants to launch editions in the Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense areas. Dagsbrun is still looking for another investor to back up the project although they say that there is enough to launch the Danish version.The first to react was Aalborg publisher Nordjyske Stiftstidende with a door-to-door delivered free afternoon daily Centrum Aften from August 14 on – circulation 65,000. In the morning Centrum Morgen (circulation 25,000) is published, replacing the free daily 10 Minutter that was launched in 2002 (circulation 24,000 2005).

On August 15 Metro International announced that they would launch a free afternoon edition of their MetroXpress in Copenhagen from the 21st on. The edition will have a weekday circulation of 100,000; on Friday 110,000 copies of a weekend edition will be published. The afternoon edition will be distributed through public transport and by hand from 2.30 on. MetroXpress has a morning circulation of 180,000 in Copenhagen and of 90,000 in the rest of the country.

Pasted Graphic Meanwhile the new owner of Orkla (Berlingske Tidende/BT) David Montgomery (Mecom) decided that they could not stay behind. He urged his staff to design and dress up a free paper within a week. The result is Dato (Date), the fastest made paper so far: distributed in the morning in greater Copenhagen and Aarhus from August 16 on. There is now only one edition, but soon special Aarhus pages will be produced. There is a staff of 35 people from Berlingske working for the new title, circulation is said to be 500,000. Berlingske (that will switch to tabloid in September) already publishes the free commuter daily Urban in six editions in Denmark with a total circulation 223,000. Urban will have a new, more airy and modern design from the second week on and is also increasing circulation. Pasted Graphic 1 Danish leading publisher JP/Politiken Hus 17 August launched 24timer (24 hours), also a door to-door distributed free daily. The paper is distributed in 4 editions: Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and South Jutland; Odense will follow. Apart from the two best read paid Danish papers Jyllandsposten (of cartoon fame) and Politiken the company publishes a local free daily in Aarhus: JPArhus+ with an (un-audited) circulation of 50,000.Both Dato and 24timer look like the familiar commuter paper, Nyhedsavisen looks more like a traditional paper (in tabloid format) and will also target the profitable Saturday market – 24timer will then probably also move to the Saturday (and Dato will follow).

Distribution is not yet on the 500.000 level both new papers promised while also Metro has problems with getting rid of all 100.000 afternoon copies. Foreign labor from Poland is hired to secure door-to-door delivery. Another problem is the deadline; both Dato and 24timer close early in the evening. They both missed the result of the sensational FC Copenhagen win over Ajax in Amsterdam (both Metro and Urban opened with it). Nyhedsavisen claims it will close at 11.00 PM. A last problem is that from January 1 on papers cannot use the wire copy of the Danish press agency Ritzau for more than 40% of their editorial content; this will result in higher editorial costs. Nyhedsavisen will not use Ritzau at all.

Advertising prices will drop by 50% at least because of the new launches and plans according to insiders. In the end it will mean that Denmark will have something like 2 million copies of free papers and 1,3 million of paid ones. In other words: 60% of total circulation is free. Although it is very well possible that some (or all) papers will be successful in terms of circulation – success in terms of revenues could be harder. Nyhedsavisen already annouced that it will give discounts to advertisers when the promised readership is not supported by research. Other papers are probably forced to use a similar model.

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