German publishing house Axel Springer AG appears to be raising the stakes in the Polish newspaper market: Its Polish division, Axel Springer Poland, announced a joint venture with Infor Biznes, a subsidiary of Infor PL, which publishes Gazeta Prawna, the leading Polish business newspaper. Axel Springer Poland acquires 49 percent of the shares in Infor Biznes, and will bring its quality newspaper Dziennik (151,000 copies) into the joint venture.
“The goal of the co-operation is to amalgamate both titles into a new quality daily newspaper from the autumn of 2009,” according to the company’s press release.
This new paper will be in direct competition with the leading quality paper of the country, Gazeta Wyborcza (daily circulation of 396,000 copies in the first quarter), published by the Agora Group. The German publisher’s ambitions in Poland will not come as a complete surprise for Agora, which already witnessed Axel Springer’s successful launch of the Polish tabloid-style daily newspaper Fakt in 2003 (491,000 copies Q1). Also, Springer and Infor PL were already in co-operation for circulation incentives.
But this future competition could bring more bad news to an already struggling newspaper market. Confronted with a difficult economy, Polish dailies have increased their cover prices several times in recent months and have created complicated "packaged offers" to boost their sales.
For the first quarter of 2009, Agora Group estimates that advertising spending for all media amounted to PLN 1.6 billion (approximately 353.5 million euros), 7 percent less than a year ago. Television earned the most (PLN 761 million / about 168.2 million euros), while advertisers reduced their advertising expenditure in newspapers by 24 percent to PLN 189 million (about 41.7 million euros).
The largest drop was noticeable in the following categories: recruitment (down by more than 60 percent), telecoms (down more than 35 percent), real estate and finance (down more than 30 percent). Internet, including display ads, search engine marketing, email marketing and classifieds, was the only growing medium with ad expenditure of PLN 200 million (almost 42.2 million euros). The expenditure on display ads grew by nearly 8 percent (yoy).