Liechtenstein's oldest newspaper closing after 145 years

Liechtenstein's oldest newspaper closing after 145 years

The Liechtensteiner Volksblatt has reported on the Alpine principality since 1878
The Liechtensteiner Volksblatt has reported on the Alpine principality since 1878. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Source: AFP

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After 145 years chronicling the life and times of Liechtenstein, the tiny principality's oldest daily newspaper announced Tuesday that it would close down next month.

The Liechtensteiner Volksblatt, founded in 1878, is to call time in March because of a drop in subscriptions and advertising revenue in the Alpine microstate of 39,000 inhabitants, between Switzerland and Austria.

"The fate is sealed: Volksblatt is discontinued," the paper said after a unanimous decision by its board, concluding that the paper had no long-term economic viability.

"Advertising money is now flowing to companies like Google and Facebook -- and a constantly declining number of print subscribers is making life difficult for almost every newspaper," it said in a press release.

"At the same time, there is still not enough willingness to pay for digital news content."

The small media market in Liechtenstein, wedged between Switzerland and Austria, was also a factor.

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'Lemon has been squeezed'

"The prevailing feeling is certainly melancholy," editor and chief executive Lucas Ebner told AFP.

"But after years of often exhausting struggle for survival, it was also clear to everyone that the time had now come to cease operations.

"At some point, the lemon has been squeezed and at some point, it would no longer have been possible to meet the company's own quality standards."

Circulation figures had dropped to 3,800 from 9,000 in 2015.

A "generous social plan" has been drawn up for the 30 employees affected, the paper said.

An agreement has also been reached so that subscribers can now receive the country's other main daily newspaper, the Liechtensteiner Vaterland, which has been running since 1936.

Volksblatt was close to the Progressive Citizens' Party, while Vaterland is traditionally close to the Patriotic Union -- the two centre-right parties dominate politics in Liechtenstein.

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But Vaterland said it was now going to shift its stance in response to the new media landscape.

"After the demise of Volksblatt, the Vaterland editorial team quickly put on a new coat (editorial status) and now wants to inform in an objective and party-neutral way," it told its readers.

Ebner said: "There will still be reporting on what's happening in Liechtenstein in the future. But of course, plurality of opinion suffers."

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Source: AFP

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