No more free dailies in the Baltics

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Between 2005 and 2008 all three Baltic countries had a free newspaper, all of them with several editions and reaching market shares of more than a quarter of the total newspaper market.

Two of them were owned by Norwegian publisher Schibsted, one by Swedish company Bonnier, and none off them is around in 2011 – although one title is published three days a week and one other two times.

Latvian free daily 5Min was launched in August 2005 by Swedish-owned paid paper Diena (Bonnier). The paper was published in Latvian and Russian. In 2009 Bonnier sold Diena and 5Min to Guernsey-based investors Jonathan and David Rowland.

Latvian businessman Viesturs Koziols acquired a 51% stake in the company in 2010. 5Min was closed in June 2010, although according to the publisher, it was  ”a temporary decision” –  a relaunch would be possible when the economy recovers.

15min 2009

In September 2005, free daily 15min started in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, editions for Kaunas and Kleipeda were added a year later.

Norwegian publisher Schibsted bought the paper in 2006, first as a majority shareholder, in 2008 it acquired 100% of the company. In 2009 the paper reduced distribution to three days a week.

LinnalehtIn Estonia, free daily Linnaleht was launched in capital Talinn in December 2005, in both a Estonia and Russian edition. The paper was jointly owned by by the Eesti Meedia (Schibsted) and Ekspress Groups, publishers of paid dailies Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht.

In 2007 a Tartu edition was added while Pärnu got a weekly edition in the same year. In December 2008 the daily paper was replaced by a semi-weekly paper.

Thanks to the team that compiled the Latvia entry of European Media Landscapes.

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