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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Metro set for Danish launch
London Underground train
Metro newspaper is distributed on subway stations around London
For commuters living in the world's big cities, the free newspaper Metro has become a fixture at bus stops, on trains or down in the underground.

Since it started Stockholm six years ago, Metro has already conquered 15 countries.

The Luxembourg-based owners of Metro now boast some nine million readers for its 21 editions.

On Monday 3 September, Metro is making its debut in the Danish city of Copenhagen - adding an extra 130,000 copies to its press run, instantly making Metro one of Denmark's largest daily newspapers.

Secret of success?

Many newspaper proprietors have seen their revenues fall as companies have cut their advertising spending in the face of a global slowdown.

Even in this environment, Metro appears to have thrived.

The secret of Metro's success is usually seen as its appeal to young readers, its low overheads and above all, the fact that it is free.

Metro chief executive Pelle Toernberg said that, like all newspaper companies, one of Metro's big challenges is the "enormous fight for time".

"People are spending less time reading a newspaper," he said.

"We have introduced a fact-based, non-political, unbiased newspaper that should take you 20 minutes to read," he told the BBC's World Business Report.

Only about half of Metro's newspapers are distributed on subways, buses or trains.

"We are trying to pick up different cultures or habits...In Italy we have a big distribution through coffee shops. In the US, office distribution and university distribution have been very successful," he said.

Willing to pay?

Those who dismiss Metro's appeal by pointing to the fact that its free may be surprised to find that surveys show that more than 50% of their readers would be prepared to pay for it.

Mr Toernberg said that typically newspaper subscription revenues just cover the cost of distribution, with advertisements providing the bulk of the profits.

Metro's distribution costs are low as they are delivered in bulk to a few sites.

And editorial costs are kept down because with most news bought in from agencies, the publications need only a handful of reporters.

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Pelle Toernberg, CEO, Metro International
"People are spending less time reading a newspaper"
See also:

01 Jul 01 | Business
Global ad industry hits buffers
27 Jul 01 | Business
Trinity Mirror to slash 800 jobs
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