Newspapers faring best in Austria

News Brief: July/August 2010

Austrian newspapers continue to prosper in spite of the financial crisis and the wrenching changes in the industry that have shaken the print press elsewhere, outperforming all other countries in the study by some measures, according to an soon-to-be-released study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Compared to a decline in revenue in the industry of almost 30% in the United States, revenue to the Austrian newspaper industry fell by just 2%, followed in Europe by France at 3%, although from an already lower level, and Germany at 10 %. The second-biggest decline was in the U.K, down 21%.

With one fifth of Austria’s population of 8.1 million living in Vienna, analysts credit the city’s coffee house tradition, where patrons can choose from among dozens of newspapers available on wooden holders. Even more important is the strong public transit system, which supports both readership numbers and single copy sales. “In contrast to Americans who commute to work by car,” writes Helena Fink for the website pressreference, com, “Austrians travel by train, subway, or streetcar, past kiosks where they can buy a daily paper and in vehicles where they can read instead of drive.”

Austrian papers also benefit from what the BBC describes as “an unusual – if not entirely uncontroversial” system of government subsidies, said to be aimed at underpinning pluralism in the media.

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