Paris Prepares for Continued Freesheet Battle

19 March 2002

Two Scandinavian newspaper groups are set to step up their rivalry on the streets of Paris this week as their daily freesheets begin to compete head to head for circulation.

In one corner is Sweden’s Metro International, owner of Metro – an ad-funded, free daily paper which now has 22 editions in fourteen countries and twelve languages (the Parisian version launched last month). In the other is Norway’s Schibsted, whose 20 Minutes title, based on the same principle as its rival, hit Paris for the first time on Friday.

However, the contest is not just mano-a-mano. In a third corner is the French newspaper establishment, which has not taken kindly to the sudden appearance of two foreign upstarts.

Distribution of Metro’s 200,000 copies has suffered from action by unions, who claim the paper’s printing and circulation strategies fail to match standards forced on the rest of the newspaper industry. Metro staff, hired to deliver the title across Paris, have been attacked, while thousands of copies have been destroyed.

In an attempt to avoid such problems, Schibsted signed a printing agreement with French media giant Ouest and a distribution alliance with France Rail Publicité. However, union action still prevented distribution of all its 190,000 copies on Friday.

Despite the problems so far, both companies remain bullish about their Parisian prospects, with Schibsted forecasting a rise in 20 Minutes’ print-run to as much as 450,000 this year.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff