Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper has many cousins all over Europe. Its publisher, Axel Springer, has over 120 newspapers and magazines between Spain and Russia.
The tabloid-like Auto-Bild is the most successful print product in Europe, according to the Axel Springer publishing company. Each month, seven million copies of the magazine are sold to car fans in 30 nations, including licensed editions in India and Thailand. The Computer-Bild and other titles are also marketed in many European countries.
Together with Swiss publisher Ringier, the Axel Springer Group publishes tabloid products in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Serbia. The magazines, which are modeled after Bild in Germany and Blick in Switzerland, are editorially independent and take into account the tastes of their regional markets. Springer-Ringier has been aiming for second-to-none circulation volumes, and experts agree they've been hitting their targets.
Subsidiaries in nine countries
Poland's Fakt newspaper proved to be the most popular in the country shortly after its introduction in 2004. Like many other Polish newspapers, Fakt likes to exaggerate in its reports. In the run-up to EURO 2012, the use of fighting language was the rule rather than an exception.
"In Poland, journalists are very gung-ho, and the separation of opinion and actual reporting is often blurred," Warsaw-based media expert Stanislaw Mocek said in a recent study. "Moreover, the focus is mostly on domestic politics."
Insiders claim there's no harm in the fact that sometimes Bild and Fakt - two papers from the same publisher - attack each others verbally to appeal to domestic audiences. It only goes to show that there is editorial independence. After all, the main thing is to secure decent revenues.
Poland a growth market
Springer has set its sights on additional expanding in Poland. The Springer-Ringier Group acquired the biggest Polish online portal, Onet.pl, in April.
"This is a milestone for us," joint venture chief Florian Fels said at the time, adding that now the publishing group controlled the mass-circulation newspapers as well as the largest website in the country. Springer also publishes Newsweek Polska and the Polish edition of Forbes.
In Hungary, Axel Springer stepped into action shortly after the political changes in 1989 and has become the largest publisher in the country, putting out a total of 30 magazines and 10 newspapers. In Russia, Springer publishes the apolitical and popular science magazine GEO as well as the gossip title OK.
Online business gaining in importance
In Serbia, Springer-Ringier scores with the mass-circulation tabloid BLIC. It's equally successful in Slovakia with Novy Cas, the highest-circulation tabloid there. In the Czech Republic, Springer-Ringier puts out market leader Blesk and five other newspapers plus 14 magazines.
Springer Chief Executive Matthias Döpfner has announced the publisher is looking to on expanding its international activities and online business. At present, the group already generates a third of its overall revenues abroad. Online earnings do not just come from conventional journalistic content, but increasingly also through Web-based real estate and job ads. But Springer is not the only contender. Among its rivals in eastern Europe are the German WAZ Group and Burda, both of which have also been trying to get a bigger slice of the cake in eastern Europe.
Author: Bernd Riegert / hg
Editor: Nicole Goebel