Financial Times' German offshoot to shut

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News,Business

BERLIN (AP) — The publisher of the Financial Times' German offshoot is set to shut the loss-making business daily, putting up to 350 jobs in jeopardy in the latest blow to Europe's ailing newspaper industry.

The national daily Financial Times Deutschland, which has a circulation of about 100,000 copies, said on its website Wednesday that the publication is "about to be stopped."

The publisher of the English-language Financial Times, Pearson PLC, sold its stake in the German paper in 2008, but it continued to appear on the same distinctive salmon-colored paper.

The German offshoot, often called FTD by its initials, became a widely respected national newspaper published five days a week, but it was never profitable and reportedly again saw significant losses this year amid falling advertising revenue.

The board of the daily's publisher, Gruner + Jahr, was meeting Wednesday and declined to comment beforehand on reports that it plans to shut the daily, three business magazines and their websites with a total staff of about 350.

"We fear the worst," a journalist with the newspaper told The Associated Press. "We are just waiting for the publisher to finally make the announcement," said the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Media group Bertelsmann SE, which also owns the book publisher Random House, holds a majority stake in the Hamburg-based publisher Gruner + Jahr. Any decision by the publisher must be validated by Bertelsmann's supervisory board later this month.

On its news website, the FTD thanked its readers and said, "We now await the decision of our publisher."

The news comes just a week after another one of Germany's top 10 national dailies, Frankfurter Rundschau, filed for insolvency, putting some 500 jobs in jeopardy. The center-left leaning paper, with a daily circulation of about 120,000, was one of the first to receive a publishing license by the American occupation authorities after World War II.

Newspaper readership in Germany has been falling constantly over the past few years. From 2000 to 2011 the daily circulation of all newspapers fell by about 22 percent, from 24 million to 18.9 million copies, according to the BDZV lobby group of newspaper publishers.

In much of Europe newspapers appear be following the path of their U.S. peers a few years behind, with falling revenues leading to paper closures or changing business models as readers switch to read their news online or on tablet computers.

In recession-hit Spain, the media group that owns top-rated newspaper El Pais started laying off almost a third of its 466 employees earlier this month. National daily Publico this year stopped publication and now uses a much-reduced staff to put out an online edition. At the same time, Spain's union representing journalists said some 8,000 journalists have lost their jobs since the financial crisis hit in 2008.

In France, newspaper circulation has declined steadily over the last decade, with readership falling by an average of 20 percent across the country's main dailies.

The French minister in charge of media, Aurelie Filippetti, has acknowledged there are "difficulties" in the French press, an industry that's struggling despite the €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) in state subsidies for newspapers every year.

France Soir, a popular paper founded during the World War II, was the most serious victim, stopping its print edition in favor of an online one from December 2011, and eventually going bust last July.

Meanwhile, newspaper readership in Britain is also under strain. The National Readership Survey for October 2011 to September 2012 shows that the Daily Telegraph lost 12 percent of its readers on the year, according to media analyst Roy Greenslade. Mass-selling tabloid The Sun lost 7 percent and the Daily Mirror 6 percent.

In Italy, where newspapers are subsidized by the government, the industry has seen some belt-tightening but overall continues to be healthy.

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Thomas Adamson in Paris, Alan Clendenning in Madrid, Danica Kirka in London and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed reporting.

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Juergen Baetz can be reached on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz

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