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Postimees editor-in-chief on EPL exit: Public forum contracting

Priit Hõbemägi.
Priit Hõbemägi. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Priit Hõbemägi, editor-in-chief of daily Postimees, said that Eesti Päevaleht's disappearance in print is a shame as it works to reduce plurality of opinion in Estonian media. He added that it will be interesting to see how the change will affect the situation of another daily, Õhtuleht.

"It makes for a very nice birthday present. (Hõbemägi turned 67 on Monday – ed.) A competitor closing shop is cause for celebration after all. But in all seriousness, it is a shame the public forum of opinion is shrinking," Hõbemägi told ERR, commenting on news that the Eesti Päevaleht newspaper will no longer be published in print form.

He said that Eesti Päevaleht and Postimees have positioned themselves well on the market, with the former being more liberal, also left-liberal at times, while Postimees has maintained a more conservative line.

Hõbemägi added that people who insist on reading a physical newspaper can always switch to Postimees.

Positive change for the advertising market

The Postimees editor-in-chief said that Eesti Päevaleht's modest print run of around 8,000 meant it charged very little for advertising. "Therefore, a competitor offering very low prices disappearing is like a gift for other market participants."

Hõbemägi couldn't say whether EPL's disappearance will hike the price of delivery for newspapers.

"That will become clear once negotiations with Omniva begin. The company tends to adjust its prices from time to time, while it cannot do so unilaterally. We always engage them in talks. Because they also receive a subsidy for delivery in rural areas, they are interested in having something to deliver. But I cannot say anything further right now," the journalist said.

Postimees print editions to be retained

Postimees and the group's county papers will continue to be published in print, Hõbemägi said.

"We have been in the business for over 150 years and we'll stay in it for as long as our readers want us to. While print runs are dwindling everywhere in the world because of the success of online media, I must say that Postimees has done a good job selling subscriptions and we do not have a decline. Therefore, we are maintaining our current level, which is an excellent result."

Unlike competitors, Postimess Grupp does not release the print runs of its newspapers.

"It is a strategic decision not to disclose that information," Hõbemägi remarked.

He also highlighted the importance of county papers. "It is the newspaper bringing you local news, which no other [nationwide] publication can do, neither Eesti Päevaleht nor Postimees. That is why local print newspapers will be protected against all manner of unpleasant surprises."

Hõbemägi opined that the newspapers market could see further changes in the near future, pointing to the tabloid Õhtuleht and whispers of mergers or consolidation. "There are rumors, while no one can say for sure today," he said.

Priit Hõbemägi became the editor-in-chief of Postimees in June 2022, having served in the same role at Eesti Päevaleht, Eesti Ekspress and Õhtuleht in the past.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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