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Free sheet pulls in the readers

It's free so there's sometimes competition to find one

(Keystone)

The free newspaper in German-speaking Switzerland, 20 Minuten, is rapidly increasing its circulation, according to figures.

A media research report published on Tuesday finds that readership of other German-language daily Swiss newspapers remains fairly stable.

But in the French-language area, most daily newspapers are losing readers.

20 Minuten has gradually built up its circulation area since June last year, expanding from the agglomerations of Zurich, Bern and Basel to central Switzerland. Since June it has also been available in and around the eastern city of St Gallen.

The WEMF-REMP research organisation said that the newspaper now had a total readership of 948,000 compared with 782,000 a year ago.

Success story

"20 Minuten is a success story. Since its launch, it has managed to achieve such increases [in readers] on several occasions. For example, between 2002 and 2003 it won 200,000 more," Josef Trappel, a communications researcher at Zurich University told swissinfo.

He said that the paper was also taking advantage of its market leader status because it acted as a kind of magnet for advertising.

Trappel added that 20 Minuten was a well-made product, was very close to young people and was clever in successfully marrying its print and online versions.

"20 Minuten fits in with a current trend, which is to give information that is quickly read," commented Saverio Progano, director of the Mediaedge communications agency in Lausanne.

"It's direct competition for some papers, but not for magazines or dailies offering in-depth articles," he told swissinfo.

Publicity cake

"The publicity cake is not expanding, rather the opposite, and a free newspaper by its very nature takes advertising away from the others."

The tabloid Blick of Zurich was in second place with 717,000 readers, down by 19,000 on the same period last year.

The highly-respected Neue Zürcher Zeitung came seventh in the newspaper hit parade, increasing its readership by 12,000 to 341,000.

In the French-language region part of the country, the daily Le Matin of Lausanne comes out on top with 353,000 readers, an increase of 22,000.

It is followed by 24heures, La Tribune de Genève and Le Temps.

In the Italian-language region of Switzerland, the free Sunday newspaper Il Caffè attracts 125,000 readers, up by 19,000.

The report is based on a survey carried out in April 2004 among 23,813 people in the three linguistic regions of the country.

It found that the Swiss continue to be a nation of print media lovers, with 91 per cent of the population reading a newspaper and 93 per cent browsing through a magazine.

This is much higher than in most other countries of the world.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The ten most-read daily newspapers in Switzerland:

20 Minuten: 948,000 (+166,000)
Blick: 717,000 (-19,000)
Tages-Anzeiger: 567,000 (-6,000)
Berner Zeitung: 405,000 (-21,000)
Mittellandzeitung: 389,000 (+8,000)
Le Matin: 353,000 (+2,000)
Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 341,000 (+12,000)
Neue Luzerner Zeitung: 292,000 (+22,000)
Die Südostschweiz: 249,000 (unchanged)
24heures: 266'000 (-21,000)

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