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Printing houses: Only a matter of time until newspapers disappear from the shelves

A newspaper print run.
A newspaper print run. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

The two largest printing houses in Estonia say they have come to terms with the fact that the days of print versions of newspapers are numbered, and have turned their focus increasingly to other sectors.

Earlier this month, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) announced it would be discontinuing its printed edition from April this year, joining business daily Äripäev, whose print version ceased from the start of last year.

The Eesti Trüki- ja Pakenditööstuse Liit, the main union representing the printing industry in Estonia, says tht the two largest printing houses which deal with newspapers, magazines and periodicals are Kroonpress and Printall.

Printall had produced EPL's newspaper editions, while Kroonpress produces both Postimees' national and regional editions, and evening paper Õhtuleht, still both available in print version.

Andres Kull, director of Kroonpress, told ERR that it is only a matter of time before none of the newspapers in Estonia appear in print version, while his company, based in Tartu, has already stopped printing magazines.

For his company, the future lies in printing product packaging and also in ad printing – the retail sector still orders advertising printed on paper, Kull said.

Kalle Kuusik, manager at Printall, based in Tallinn, said that the loss of EPL and other newspapers will not negatively impact the firm in a significant way, as the share of output taken up by print newspapers is small.

Moreover, the decline in print editions of newspapers is nothing new and has been an ongoing phenomenon for a long time, he added.

Printall does however have a larger output of printed magazines than Kroonpress and will continue to do so, he said.

Kroonpress says it orders its paper primarily from the Scandinavian countries, while even before the security situation deteriorated, Russia had not been a reliable source of paper.

Paper sourced from the U.S. is also growing, he says, as prices have been falling.

The situation was much the same at Printall, Kull said: Much of the input paper is sourced from the Nordic countries, and the company has severed all business ties with Russia.

In addition to the general tendency to consume news online in any case, a major factor in print editions becoming unprofitable for the major private media companies in Estonia has been rising delivery costs, which particularly relate to the more outlying areas of the country.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kaur Rasmus Tammelaan

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