Friday, January 27, 2006

Hong Kong free daily closer to profit

The Hong Kong free daily am730 expects to record its first monthly profit some time in the second quarter, publisher and property agent Shih Wing-ching told the South China Morning Post yesterday (Jan. 26). One of three free dailies now circulated in the city, am730 hit the streets in July last year and has since accumulated losses of about $20 million. Market leader among the give-away titles, Metro Publishing Hong Kong's Metro made its first monthly profit after 14 months of operation and is believed to have made a profit of $50 million in 2004.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ads grow at Hong Kong's 3 free dailies

Frederick Yeung of the South China Morning Post says three free dailies in Hong Kong have each seen steady growth in the past year. Metro's share is up 13% to $672 in 2005. In the past month, am730 is up 17%, reaching $36 million, Metro grew 1.9% to $63 million and Headline Daily saw its ad dollars grow 12.8% to $33 million.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Free dailies attracting young readers

Writers Don Nizen and Floyd Weintraub, writing for the trade association National Association of Newspapers, describe the growth of free newspapers. Most of this seems accurate except for one glaring error. In the third paragraph, it says that the first free dailies appeared in Sweden. Unless the authors have a time machine, I think the free dailies in Colorado began before that. The first in that state was the Colorado Daily, the University of Colorado student paper that was kicked off of campus in the early 1970s for its editorials against the Vietnam War. It became a successful community daily for several years, although it has recently been beset with financial problems and ownership turnover. However, Aspen got two free dailies, one in 1979 (which was really a news letter published daily until the owner bought a web press in 1984), and the second in 1988. The Vail Daily began in 1984, too. All of these Colorado publications began before Metro was a glimmer in anyone's eye. And the original typography of Metro looked a lot like those Colorado papers, particularly the Aspen Times Daily.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Denver Post considering a free daily

Media News chairman Dean Singleton, owner of the Denver Post, appears ready to launch a free daily to compliment his paid paper. The Post is part of a joint operating agreement with the Rocky Mountain News, which allows the two papers to combine resources with the blessing of the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division. Singleton got the division's approval to print a free daily in December 2005. Amy Bryer of the Denver Business Journal writes that the Post's move might be a pre-emptive strike against Phil Anschutz, the Denver railroad and oil billionaire, who has bought or started free dailies in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Free papers better for advertisers than TV

Frederick Yeung of the South China Morning Post reports that Peter Kuo, chief executive of Metro in Hong Kong, says that advertisers can reach more people for less money with a free daily over TV. He also reports that Metro is launching a second publication, MetroLife, a monthly that will focus on health and beauty news. Metro in Hong Kong is facing competition from Sing Tao News Corp's Headline Daily and Shih Wing-ching's am730, but still expects to see revenues increase 10 percent this year.

In Hong Kong, free dailies get bigger ad slice

Hong Kong has three free dailies, and they're claiming 8 percent of the city's $1.6 billion newspaper advertising market, according to the South China Morning Post and reporter Frederick Yeung.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Paid Hong Kong papers fight 3 free dailies

Traditional paid circulation dailies in Hong Kong are fighting back as three free dailies are cutting into their circulation, Nozomu Hayaski of the Asahi Shimbun reports. "The three tabloids are now seen as powerful new kids on the block in Hong Kong's newspaper market, which has a total readership of 2 million. There are more than 10 newspapers in the market, from pro- and anti-China papers to general-interest and English-language newspapers--all competing for fickle readers," Hayaski writes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Six free dailies make progress in S. Korea

The Korean Times, in a wrap up on the news business in S. Korea, reports that the country now has six free tabloids, which are encroaching on the readership base of the traditional print newspapers. "The six free dailies, distributed around subway stations, dominated the commuting scenes with their combined issues estimated to be over 2 million," the Times wrote.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Fired editor to lead Baltimore Examiner

Billionaire Phil Anschutz, who owns free dailies in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., is launching another one this spring in Baltimore, and its new editor will be Frank J. Keegan, a former editor of the Connecticut Post, according to a report by Nick Madigan of the Baltimore Sun. In Connecticut, reporter Eric Friedman of the Fairfield County Weekly confirmed that Keegan was fired by the Post, a daily published in Bridgeport, Conn., in mid-April after working there about three years. The Baltimore Examiner will be the third in Anschutz's chain of free papers and he plans to expand to dozens of other American cities.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Palo Alto Daily News publishers ride into sunset

Dave Price and Jim Pavelich, co-publishers of the Palo Alto Daily News and its five sister daily newspapers, are stepping down from the company they started 10 years ago. Knight Ridder bought the Daily News in Feburary and the two publishers stayed on during the transition. KR also asked them to start free dailies in other U.S. cities. But in November, a group of shareholders demanded the sale of KR, which put all corporate expansion plans on hold for at least a year. As a result, Price and Pavelich decided to leave KR to move forward with their own newspaper projects outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Palo Alto Daily News has become a model for free daily newspapers. It was profitable nine months after it started. It created a format that numerous other free dailies have copied. It's penetration of the local advertising market was breathtaking, with issues that had 150-200 display ads per day. The paper's page counts ranged from 60 to 120 per day. And the paper pulled down as many awards as long-established daily competitors, including two consecutive statewide awards for editorial writing. Reports by the Certified Audit of Circulations showed the paper had a return rate of less than 2 percent. Staffers reported that people would walk several blocks to get their copy of "The Daily" each morning.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

theSun rises in Malaysia

Emily Tan of "theSun," Malaysia's first and only free national newspaper, reports that her paper will boost its print run and circulation to 200,000 copies in 2006 from 150,000 copies to meet the increasing demand. "The 30% increase reflects theSun's confidence in its free newspaper model, which is taking the world by storm."

Second free daily coming to Prague

Ringier, a major Czechslovakian publisher, is planning to launch its own free daily to compete with Metro, which launched in 2003. According to this publication, Chezh Business Weekly, "The newspaper, whose name is still a secret, will come out five days a week and mainly target young, urban readers from the Prague metropolitan area. It will have an initial print run of 250,000 copies. "

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Chicago's Red Streak free daily dies

The AP provides an obituary for the Red Streak, a free daily in Chicago put out by the paid circulation Chicago Sun-Times. The Red Streak lost a three-year-long head-to-head battle with another free daily, the Red Eye, published by the rival Chicago Tribune. AP reporter Dave Carpenter writes "A copycat mission from the start, it was launched in 2002 the same day as long-planned RedEye and with the same focus on local entertainment, sports, fashion and celebrity gossip. But the company with more resources prevailed." Here's a list of free dailies in metro markets. The list apparently doesn't include papers such as the Palo Alto Daily News.