The Belgian edition of the free newspaper Metro, distributed mainly through public transport, will cease publication because it is no longer viable. Rossel Group, the owner of Metro, has announced this.
As the last printed free newspaper in the country, Metro is also entirely dependent on advertising revenue. And those remain structurally too low to finance the activity. On Friday, the last paper version of the newspaper, which appeared in both French and Dutch, will be published. The online version will be continued until January.
The sauce did not pick up
The free newspaper Metro has been published since 2000. Since last year, it has only been published three times a week after corona lockdowns and teleworking had a structural impact on its economic model.
Since a few months, further cuts had already been made by, among other things, canceling the cooperation with the press agency Belga. The hard news was thus further phased out and traded in for more accessible entertainment and bland trivia. With an increasingly narrow targeting of a younger reading public, the newspaper was also distributed on university campuses or within companies.
More than 800 000 daily readers
Rossel, also the publisher of the daily Le Soir newspaper and 50% owner of the broadsheets De Tijd and L’Echo, was the sole shareholder since the end of 2020, after Mediahuis sold its stake to Rossel. This year is the fourth year in a row that Metro accumulated losses. According to last year’s CIM figures, Metro reached just over 807 770 readers daily.
“Despite all efforts to reduce its cost structure, Metro is no longer financially sustainable,” Rossel commented in the group’s leading daily newspaper, Le Soir. “Research into the situation of free press titles in other markets, Europe and worldwide, has not revealed a more encouraging outlook. These observations reluctantly lead us to discontinue Metro’s operations”, the Rossel Group says.
The decision also relates to the online site Zita.be, a popular Dutch news site – once the portal site of cable broadband provider Telenet – focusing on “entertainment, lifestyle, news and fun”. Specifically, the last paper version of Metro will thus be published on Friday. The Metro website will remain active until 15 January next year.