Worries newspaper publishers in the morning

Despite the print subscription, you don't have a newspaper at your door in the morning: this is becoming more common in densely populated areas like Vienna. This is due to, among other things, the staffing situation in delivery companies and the thinning of delivery addresses. In some cases, it is necessary to switch to a post office, which does not guarantee early delivery. Rising prices are also a concern. As an APA review shows, media companies are committed to early distribution across the country.

Martin Gnessaurek, director of print publishing at the “Standard”, explains the current situation with a general decline in print circulation, which leads to thinner delivery addresses and longer distances to the newspaper. “As a result, but also because of rising fuel prices, margins for delivery companies and distributors are falling, which means costs for publishers are rising,” says Kneschaurek. Maximilian Dasch, managing director of “Salzburger Nachrichten”, talks about “comprehensive challenges” regarding daily home delivery, which may include competition for good staff, high energy prices and changing demands for work and leisure time. “This requires more flexible deployment models, adaptability in the design of delivery areas and greater effort in attracting and retaining delivery partners,” he says.

Markus Mair, CEO of Styria Media Group, under whose umbrella “Kleine Zeitung” and “Die Presse” operate, has seen a “very challenging market environment” for some time. To ensure the reliability and quality of home delivery in the long run, we work with several delivery companies and also believe in collaboration with industry partners. Gerhard Fröhlich, sales manager of the “Tiroler Tageszeitung”, talks about the “constant challenge” of staffing all distribution areas. To ensure 100 percent coverage of delivery areas, “TT” is currently ten percent less than delivery partners. Alternative deliveries are arranged locally and do not require postal services. Because: “We see 6 a.m. newspaper delivery as an important USP,” says Froelich, adding that “more than 99 percent of newspapers” were delivered in December without any complaints.

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Media companies don't think about early delivery in some areas. “According to media analysis, more than 50 percent of Austrians read newspapers daily – we want to continue to supply the wide demand for print in the best possible way logistically,” says Dasch. According to the Managing Director of “SN”, daily advance delivery is more suitable for information exchange and therefore should be protected from socio-political aspects for a long time. Even with “quality” you need to ensure delivery quality. “We continue on the path of recent years and try to achieve synergies by cooperating with other market participants,” says Kneschaurek.

Mair sees a “social and media policy responsibility”. “Some target groups can only be reached through a printed newspaper. The widespread availability of physical media ensures that they are constantly informed and participate in the public conversation,” says Styria CEO. Mair favors widespread availability of daily newspapers from the public sector – “along with financial support for the distribution of newspapers”. Kneschaurek also sees the need for politicians to think about solutions, as “print daily newspaper profitability is under enormous pressure due to various cost improvements”.

Print media is currently supported as part of press funding. It also offers sales promotion, which is intended to ensure that the newspaper ends up at your doorstep. In 2023, daily newspapers received around 2.1 million euros, divided into eleven titles, which means 160,000 euros per medium and 200,000 euros in circulation. “In a small country like Austria it makes sense to centralize the delivery with a few newspapers and advertise this network adequately,” says Joseph Drappel, head of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Salzburg, in response to an APA query.

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In principle, the media expert still feels that a printed daily newspaper is “more appropriate”. “This represents the backbone of newspapers' profitability. Without print copies, the business model of daily newspapers would collapse,” says Trappel. When subscription numbers are high compared to kiosk sales, early delivery is critical, even at premium prices.

E-paper subscribers don't have to worry about home delivery – and this group is growing. While the sales circulation of Austria's daily newspapers has been in decline for a long time, according to the most recent Austrian Circulation Control (ÖAK), e-paper sales figures have increased at almost all media companies. However, they still only form part of the print version. “Only younger people are switching online, not older people,” Drappel says. However, the elderly are the most important daily newspaper customers.

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