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A free newspaper from ABP soon

April 25, 2007 13:03 IST

Kolkata-based media house ABP, which publishes Ananda Bazaar Patrika and The Telegraph, is in talks with Swedish media firm Metro International to launch its free urban newspaper, Metro, in the country.

ABP is reported to be in the advanced stage of talks with the group, which is expected to take 26 per cent equity stake in the venture.

ABP managing director Pramath Raj Sinha refused to comment on the company's foray into the compact-size paper market in partnership with the Swedish company.

However, sources said ABP was close to an agreement with the overseas firm, which launched Metro in Stockholm in 1995.

Metro was started by Metro International after a study revealed that the young and affluent consumers in Sweden were not reading national newspapers due to lack of time.

The compact daily was launched as a colourful, on-the-go newspaper which providedinformation in a succinct manner. After its success in several cities in Sweden, Metro International started editions across Europe, first in Prague and then in Hungary.

Inspired by its success, the paper was also launched in the UK in 1999 by Daily Mail and General Trust subsidiary Associated Newspapers, which publishes Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard.

Associated Newspaper has signed a 26 per cent equity deal with the India Today group for launching its tabloid, Daily Mail, in India recently.

Commenting on the prospects of free newspaper in India, Sameer Kapoor, president, Metropolitan Media Company (the Times group and HT Media Media JV), said, "Distribution is the key in the free newspaper market and if the concept can work in Europe and Singapore, I don't see why it can't work in India. Every potential compact or tabloid newspaper player in the business is eyeing the growing commuter traffic in cities."

Metropolitan Media publishes a tabloid, Metro Now, in Delhi.

Shuchi Bansal in New Delhi