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Basel readers flee newspaper

The Basler Zeitung (BaZ) newspaper has lost more than 1,000 subscribers in the past week since information about its financing became public.

The paper’s editor-in-chief, Markus Somm, confirmed the figure in an interview to the Sunday newspaper Sonntagsblick.

He described the loss as “dramatic”, and admitted that it would be difficult to get every subscriber back.

He said he could understand why many readers felt they had been tricked. That was why he had written in Saturday’s edition of the BaZ that it had been a mistake for Christoph Blocher – the leading strategist in the rightwing People’s Party – not to have explained his financial connection to the newspaper.

For his part, Blocher told another Sunday paper, the SonntagsZeitung, that in the case of the BaZ the ends justified the means: he wanted to keep the paper independent and stop it falling into the hands of a large media publisher. He had done all he could, short of buying it himself.

The new owner, Tito Tettamanti, meanwhile told the Sonntag newspaper that Blocher, a billionaire businessman, was still providing a deficit guarantee.

Worried BaZ readers set up the “Save Basel!” movement in 2010 when the paper was first sold. In a protest meeting on Saturday they expressed renewed fears that the owners want to turn it into a right-wing platform.

Both Somm and Filippo Leutenegger, the new chairman of the BaZ holding, wrote pieces in Saturday’s paper denying that this was so.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR