Friday, April 27, 2007

Dutch newspapers on the move

There is a mixed bag of news in the Dutch newspaper World coming from various newspaper companies: Telegraaf Media Group, PCM (remember the postings Never a dull….), FD Media Group and Royal Wegener.

At last PCM has announced its intention to merge with NDC/VBK. Both companie will undertake a study of four months. The question is whether the two companies can merge. If so, it would be come a company with national and regional newspapers, with educational book companies as well as general book companies. Together the two companies would turn over 1 billion euro. The study will be directed by Mr Groenewegen CFO of PCM and Jan Roos chairman of NDC/VBK.

Comment: The two companies have the same structure. Both companies are overseen by foundations, looking after their ideal objectives. Together the companies would be the largest Dutch publishing company. However the question is whether the Dutch monopoly watchdog would allow the combination or ask the company to abandon parts of it.

Royal Wegener
This regional newspaper company, ready to be acquired by the UK company Mecom, has shown optimism about the display ad and classified ad market. The chairman of the board Jan Houwert reported the joint venture newspaper AD with PCM to be profitable now; Wegener has a 37 percent share in this venture. He also mentioned the new major shareholder Mecom, which holds 24 percent in Wegener. Mecom and Wegener hold talks, but these have not been conclusive yet. Mecom has shown interest in the acquiring Royal Wegener.

Comment: When Wegener is optimistic, be assured that things are looking up for the newspaper industry in The Netherlands, as the company is at the end of the national ad feeder line.

The Dutch financial daily FD plans to launch a new online business publication next week together with the TV station RTL Nederland and the Norwegian publisher Schibsted. The name of the newspaper will be Z24. The online business newspaper will have an editorial staff of 12 people. The new publication, of which there will be no printed counterpart, aims at the target group of well educated men and women between 25 and 40 years old. The target group differs from its parent publication Het Financieele Dagblad that aims at business men and women. The co-operation of RTL Nederland, which has the business TV station RTLZ has not been formally confirmed yet. The co-operation with the Norwegian Schibsted is not a surprise as the FD group works already together with this newspaper in a business news consortium; besides one of the owners of FD, Mr Sijthoff, has a financial interest in the Norwegian publishing group.

Comment: This is an interesting project. FD Media Group has followed a cross-media strategy over the past years and has merged with Business News Radio into a successful media conglomerate. Now the media group is addressing a complete new target group with a daily online publication. Although the business newspaper has been in several consortia, usually in order to pick up ads, the media group now also goes into an editorial collaboration with a progressive Norwegian newspaper. FD Media Group has worked before with FD on an incidental basis, but now it looks like RTL Nederland is seeking co-operation with a newspaper and business radio group.

PCM’s free daily DAG has appointed Bob Witman as the-editor-in-chief. He will be heading a 45 strong editorial staff and is responsible for all editorial information regardless of its platform (print, internet, mobile and narrowcasting. He was one of the strategists of the internet policy of the daily newspaper De Volkskrant. He is an experienced journalist and has experience with cross-media. Joris van Heukelom has been appointed as the director cross-media. He will be charged with the creative development and cross-media of DAG, the brand DAG and the creation of strategic partnerships with advertisers. DAG Media is a joint venture of PCM and KPN. (For those who understand have a look at the Adfolive movie).

The newspaper company Telegraaf Media Group (TMG) and the broadcasting company SBS, in which TMG holds 20 percent of shares, will launch a multimedia platform for consumer news under the name of Wuz (an acronym for What u say, but than in Dutch) in the middle of June. Internet will be the core of the joint venture. Content mailed to the editorial staff can come online, in print, on mobile websites and in the SBS TV news programme. The target group is said to cover 2,2 million people online and 1,2 million TV viewers.

Comment: The national consumer newspapers are getting nervous again as PCM is preparing the launch of its free newspaper DAG. In order to distinguish themselves the newspaper are adding the epitheton ornans cross-media. It all started with the paid daily, which started to use the adjective. PCM used the word when collaboration with the incumbent telco KPN was announced. Now also TMG is rushing to the new land of cross-media with Wuz.
It will be interesting to see how the concept of cross-media is going to realised with distinction. From the sound of the different press releases cross-media is no more than multi-channel. So far it sounds like there is no day-parting, no scaling of screens and no usage of the strong points of the various media. It will be interesting to return to this issue with half a year and research the cross-media concept as given shape by the various editorial staffs as well as the effects on the target audiences.

Blog Posting Number: 736

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