The Slovenia Times

Styria Pulling Žurnal Publications



The decision by the Austrian media group affects the freesheet daily and weekly Žurnal24 and Žurnal and news portal Ž, published by Žurnal Media, which are reliant solely on advertising for revenue.

The impact of the decision was felt immediately, with the Ž webportal carrying an announcement that the portal had been shut down. The last issue of Žurnal24 is expected to come out on Thursday.

"This decision was very difficult, but, unfortunately, we had no alternatives from an economic standpoint," Styria Media Group CEO Markus Mair said.

"Despite strong readership and internet visit numbers by Žurnal24 (239,000 readers daily), Žurnal (319,000 readers weekly) and Ž (401,000 individual users), achieving profitability with free media is currently impossible due to the ongoing weakness in the advertising market," the company added in a statement.

A total of 53 full-time and part-time staff are to lose their jobs as a result of the closure of Žurnal Media, Styria said, adding it was preparing a package for the staff.

News of the closure has meanwhile surprised many of the staff at Žurnal Media, some of whom told the media that they found out about the decision on Tuesday evening and today, while only a few weeks ago the company was seeking a full-time staff member.

Staff have been put on paid leave until 9 June, after which termination periods are to start running.

The Culture Ministry regretted the decision of the Styria Media Group, saying that despite the relatively high number of media outlets in Slovenia it represents a blow to the diversity and versatility of the media landscape.

The ministry is also worried about the fate of more than fifty employees of Žurnal, a majority of them journalists, as they are not likely to get a new job soon given the current situation in the labour market.

Representatives of journalists of the daily Dnevnik, which is partly owned by Styria, also regretted the abolition of the Žurnal series, labelling it a significant blow to journalists and the media in Slovenia as a whole.

Žurnal was first launched as a freesheet weekly in November 2003. The daily Žurnal24 was then launched in January 2008, also using the freesheet format.

Žurnal Media cut around 25 full-time and part-time jobs in August 2011 as part of an effort to turn around its fortunes, but the effort failed.

At the time, its owner said it wanted the company to break even by 2013. Žurnal Media made a loss of EUR 4.2m in 2011 and EUR 2.5m in 2012.

Data from the Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES) shows that Žurnal Media generated EUR 1.6m in net loss last year on sales revenue in excess of EUR 5m. Accumulated loss stood at EUR 41m in 2013.

The group said today that the decision was targeted only at free publications, with Styria continuing to view Slovenia as a strategic media market.

The Austrian group will remain present in the country through a minority stake in newspaper publisher Dnevnik and holdings in online market and job search site


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