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Freesheets invade Scandinavia

Some seven free papers are currently fighting for advertisment revenues in the Danish freesheet war, one more is due to launch 6 October, and now the freesheet craze has hit Sweden as well.

Last week Bonnier launched two regional editions of its freesheet City Stockholm in Malmö and Gothenburg to counter Schibsted's plans of rolling out a new freesheet to the same cities 2 October. It's also speculated that Göteborg Posten (GP) will launch a new freesheet to defend its territory in Gothenburg – and then of course there's the pionering free commuter daily Metro to be reckoned with.

Good thing then, that Swedish freesheets are mostly printed on Swedish paper. At the start of the Danish freesheet war, Greenpeace expressed worries that all the new free papers would deplete Finnish forests. The organisation reckons some 40 per cent of Danish newspaper paper is sourced from Finnish forests:

"We argue that we should shift our paper source to Sweden, where 95% of the forests are FSC-certified, to make sure that the increase in paper usage is not paid for by the Sami people or the biodiversity in Finnish forests. We encourage people to buy FSC-certified paper as this ensures legality: we know that it has been logged legally, sustainably - that biodiversity is maintained and trees replanted – and it guarantees the participation and agreement of local people. Lots of wood that has been logged illegally in Russia come through Finland," Mads Christensen, Greenpeace's nordic campaign director, told me.

In Norway, Orkla Media, soon to become Mecome Europe, is currently fighting a court battle against the former proprietor of two small local Oslo freesheets it has acquired (the complaintant argues Orkla owes him more money). The company operates a number of local freesheets in the Oslo-area, but these only cover some districts of Oslo, which, with its 550,000 citizens, is a small city.

However, rumours of new freesheets abound, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Since Norway is the self-proclaimed world champion of environmentalism, and, truth be told, is not lagging too far behind when it comes to world records for rules and regulations either, I assume it might take quite a while before potential new freesheets would be approved by all the right authorities – and who knows what innovative new laws the Government could come up with if the Greens are too worried about the environmental impact, that is, if our culture minister doesn't decide the benefits to local democracy outweigh the costs to the environment.


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