The Nyhedsavisen saga

Icelandic Investment group Baugur, which controlled Dagsbrún, owner of 365 Media (free daily Fréttabladid in Iceland), launched Nyhedsavisen in October 2006. The paper had editions for Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus and was published six days a week. A major part would be delivered door-to-door.

Nyhedsavisen would have been the third national free daily in Denmark, after MetroXpress and Urban, both launched in 2001.

Before the launch took place, however, Danish incumbent publishers reacted in August 2006 by launching several free dailies of their own. In Aalborg local free daily Centrum was launched while Metro started an evening edition in Copenhagen. JP/Politiken started 24timer and Berlingske (Mecom) launched Dato. All except the Metro evening edition were also home-delivered.

Dato closed in April 2007, the Metro evening edition was already shut down after three months. Centrum, like local free dailies in Aarhus and Odense ‘merged’ with 24timer. This paper itself was transferred to Metro International after its publisher bought a share in Metro.

The design of Nyhedsavisen was more ‘classic’ – in contrast to ‘traditional’ free dailies. The Danish Competition Authority approved the distribution joint venture between Nyhedsavisen and Post Denmark on the condition that after a year the company must also serve other customers.

After some weeks the paper became more ‘popular’ and soon also shifted part of their distribution to public transport.

Investor Morten Lund took control over Nyhedsavisen after buying 51% of the shares in January 2008. Lund was one of the early investors in Skype and invested also in dozens of other Internet start-ups.

Dagsbrun also closed down their American paper BostonNow in April 2008. The economic situation in Iceland resulted in severe problems for the owner.

Although readership was rising – in 2008 more than 500,000 daily readers – Nyhedsavisen was still losing money, 420m Danish crowns (€56m) in 2007 according to some sources. Both Lund and Dagsbrun promised to invest in the paper and expected break-even in November 2008. The price of the 51% was said to be only 1 crown.

After the sale Nyhedsavisen closed the Odense edition and stopped home delivery in that area as well.

David Trads, editor in chief of Nyhedsavisen from the beginning on, stepped down after the take-over. In order to reach break-even the company dismissed half of the staff. Trads always was a defender of the ‘quality’ model with a substantial staff – which might explain his leave.

End July 2008 American venture capital Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) was said to finance Morten Lund’s company ML Medie ApS with enough money to increase the stake in Nyhedsavisen from 51 to 85%.

Apparently ‘investor’ Draper Fischer Jurvetson (DFJ) lived not up to their promise to invest, which resulted in many employees (from journalists to distributors) of the paper not being paid for their work in August. In Copenhagen the police had to restrain Polish newspaper delivery men when they demanded their August pay.

Total free circulation in Denmark dropped from almost 2 million in 2006 to 900,000 now.

In October 2006 11 different titles with 26 different editions were published. Mow three titles with 11 editions remain.

2 Responses to “The Nyhedsavisen saga”

  1. Newspaper Innovation » Blog Archive » The Nyhedsavisen aftermath Says:

    [...] closure of free daily Nyhedsavisen in Denmark (see previous post) is far from being a finished business. Owner Morten Lund recently accused Mecom CEO David [...]

  2. Din Omvärld - Media v.36 « Digiton Says:

    [...] 1. Danska Nyhedsavisen läggs ner Newspaperinnovation berättar hela historien; från Isländska Baugurs lansering, via Morten Lunds övertagande och fram till att polisen tvingas ingripa mot tidningsutdelare som kräver ut sin sista lön. [...]