Finnish publisher Sanoma cutting and charging to adapt for future

Nokia is not the only company undertaking rapid down-sizing in Finland. News publisher Sanoma is the latest in media to undertake a big restructure in response to online and other pressures.

Both Sanoma Magazines and Sanoma Kaupunkilehdet (its local news publishing division) are undertaking measures “to reorganise their operations and streamline cost structures”, the company said on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, Sanoma said its Helsingin Sanomat – Finland’s top daily paper – will merge two of its websites and introduce metered subscription charging (“an open pay wall”), because: “Charging a fee ensures high-quality content online

The changes in the magazine division “concern the entire personnel of Sanoma Magazines Finland Oy and Sanoma Tekniikkajulkaisut Oy”. Although “the need for reduction is estimated to be, at most, 95 persons, the total number of personnel affected by the negotiations is 811”, the company says. That suggests all company staff roles are undergoing redefinition.

The local news division is discontinuing the Helsinki edition of its Vartti freesheet because it “has not lived up to expectations”. “We will increasingly focus on developing the Metro free sheet and the local online service for the Helsinki metropolitan area,” Sanoma News CEO Pekka Soini says. The measures concern 69 people, 45 will be made redundant.

Sanoma Magazines MD Clarisse Berggårdh: “The change in our operating environment is challenging the traditional income streams of magazines, and hence our current operating models.

“We are now looking for a new, stable foundation for Sanoma Magazines, one that continues to be based on high-quality content, strong knowledge of target groups and well-known media brands, but also on increasingly multi-channel products and services.”

YLE: “According to the Finnish Newspapers Association, almost every Finn reads one or more newspapers daily, but making money online continues to be a challenge. Over the past year, newspapers in Finland have cut more than 100 journalists from staffs, leading to protests and walk-outs at some papers.”

Although these cuts sound large-scale, they do are not being implemented across some other Sanoma divisions. That leaves room for further reorganisation.

Details of Helsingen Sanomat’s meter pricing remain scant. The company said: “The renewal has also been surveyed thoroughly among HS readers. Based on the results, consumers want to read HS content using different devices, in a way that suits their life style. People are now also more willing to pay for premium content online.”