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8.1.2. Eventuality of abandoning the print form for the newspapers

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Another solution that is often talked about in Switzerland would be to abandon the print form of newspapers. Obviously the printing and distribution costs are an important part of the total charges of newspapers, as the distribution cost is already 45% of the average cover price(76). If the press would be able to get rid of such a large part of their expenses it would help resolve part of the equation.

There are a few problems that do not allow the newspapers to simply stop printing their contents though. First of all many people are not ready to give up their print version of the newspaper.

For these people it is much more convenient to read their information on the traditional paper than on a computer screen or on an electronic device. That market share is still too large to simply cut it. If newspapers were to abandon the print these users would not necessarily follow the title on another platform. A second problem right now is that people in Switzerland have not fully accepted electronic tablets yet. What is meant here is that only a small percentage of Swiss citizens own a tablet and is ready to use it as its main tool to access information. It cannot be denied that these devices have benefited from a lot of success recently, in particular since the iPad came on the market in April 2010. But they are not as anchored in society like the Internet is right now. It is still a long way to go to attain a similar type of success. If these tablets are able to reach a large market share they will have a bright future. Because newspapers on these tablets are a good match and it will be an answer in the future. The public is just not ready yet. A third problem right now is that newspapers themselves are not ready. There must be many technological developments before newspapers can present electronic versions of their contents that are as good as the paper versions. These developments are not ready and newspapers need some more time to get there.

In the future many people see newspapers in print form disappear. In Switzerland this probably will not be the case. People are too much attached to it. On the other hand it can become a secondary offer. In a few years the principal product offered by newspapers would be on the electronic tablet because the majority of people adopted them. But the print form would still be available for people who prefer having them that way. Clearly printing is a large part of the charges of newspapers. The machines that are used are very expensive and they have to be changed regularly. Newspapers could cut into these costs because they would not have to print as much as today. Various newspapers titles could come together and print in the same facilities so costs would be drastically reduced.

76 World Press Trends 2010

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