Bulgaria: two free dailies

One of the few white spots on the European map of countries with free newspapers was Bulgaria.

In 2006 publisher Economedia (paid business paper Dnevnik) was planning a free daily but shelved the plans after market leader Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), publisher of paid dailies Trud and 24 Hours, threatened to launch a free daily of their own to counter the initiative (see previous post).

19min2009But notwithstanding the opposition of WAZ, some Bulgarian companies actually launched free dailies in the country – three in fact, two of them still being published.

The first being 19 Minutes or 19’ – a 16 page tabloid with a circulation of 260,000. It started in September 2008 in the capital Sofia.

Six weeks later the paper started distributing in Pernik (40 km away from Sofia) as well. From 2009 on, the Sofia edition is also distributed in Radomir and Plovdiv, while Varna and Bourgas got their own local editions.

Publisher of 19 Minutes is Bal Media AD, a company co-founded by former journalist Boris Angelov and Atanas Arnaudov. Who is financing the operation is not exactly clear. Bal Media also publishes magazines Slava and Easy, and the b2b magazine Grandhoteli.

citypaperBulgaria2009In October 2008, Gradski vestnik, ”the City Newspaper”, a 16 page free daily with a circulation of 100,000 was launched by the Economedia group mentioned above.

The group originally was owned by the German Handelsblatt group but was acquired by Ivo Prokopiev and Philip Harmandjiev in 2007.

The City Newspaper, however, closed down in July 2009 as a result as a severe drop in advertising budgets because of the economic crisis. The last issue online is that of July 24 but in fact the paper stopped already in March.

noviniteDnes2009One month later Novinite dnes (The Daily News) launched. The paper was distributed in one national edition for the major cities Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Bourgas.

This is also a 16 page tabloid, the circulation is 150,000. The paper is owned by P. Bluskov, who used to own the dailies Monitor, Telegraph, and Politics.

Bluskov sold his dailies for nearly 5 million euro to Irena Krusteva, former CEO of the Bulgarian national lottery Toto. Krusteva also acquired tv channel TV7 and daily paper Express.

In terms of political affiliation, an item very important in Bulgaria, 19′ is being very critical towards GERB, the political party of prime-minister Boiko Borisov. Novinite dnes on the other hand supports Borisov and criticizes the opposition: the Bulgarian Socialistic Party (BSP). Also Gradski vestnik supported Borisov.

(Thanks to Rada Betovska, student at the “St. Kliment Ohridski” University in Sofia who provided information on these papers.)

One Response to “Bulgaria: two free dailies”

  1. Newspaper Innovation » Blog Archive » Bulgarian Novinite Dnes converted to paid Says:

    [...] Novinite Dnes was launched in April of this year and claims a circulation of 150,000 (see previous post). [...]