NEWS | 18 Feb 2015

20 years of Nordic free dailies

A 67-part series on free dailies intends to cover two decades of free newspaper development in Europe and the world. Media researcher Piet Bakker’s “Newspaper Innovation” blog sets out from the 20th birthday of the first ‘modern’ free daily, Metro Stockholm, and reports on the development country by country. Below is a short summary of the Nordic free daily story.

In Sweden, February 13, 1995 saw the launch of Metro, a newcomer which was soon followed by free daily papers in other Nordic markets (Norway excepted). Over the course of a couple of years the number of Nordic titles and their circulation grew quickly, but economic difficulties followed. Today, only a handful of titles remain altogether in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

Rapid spread followed by fusions and closedowns
Having started out aiming at an audience of commuters in Sweden’s metropolitan cities, free papers quickly spread to urban centres in the provinces. In some cases city-based titles launched regional papers, either alone or in collaboration with regional partners; in others, local/regional publishers launched their own free papers to prevent new entrants from cutting into their advertising market.

The free papers generally attracted a great deal of readers, but fierce competition on the free paper market created economic difficulties for the players, which led to consolidation or closure. Metro, for example, sold its Finnish operations to Sanoma in 2006, which two years later merged its own title, Uutislehti 100, into it. In 2008, MetroXpress in Denmark (Metro) took over JP/Politiken’s 24timer, but in 2012 the titles were sold to the Swiss media company Tamedia, which later closed 24timer. In Sweden, Schibsted acquired 35 per cent of Metro in conjunction with the closure of its own free paper,

Nordic free dailies today
Daily free papers in the Nordic countries are now few – there is one title each in Denmark, Finland and Iceland, and three in Sweden. The titles and owners are as follows: MetroXpress in Denmark (Tamedia), Metro Finland (Sanoma), Fréttablaðið on Iceland (365 Media), and Metro (Metro International), City Lund/Malmö (Bonnier) and Extra Östergötland (NTM group) in Sweden.

Newspaper Innovation blog (Denmark is part 8, Finland part 10, Sweden part 14, etc.)


More reading
The Nordic Media Market 2015
The Nordic Media Market 2009, available in PDF (link to Nordicom's publication series)
Statistics on Nordic newspapers, in Nordicom's table database - choose Nordic and Newspapers