RIGA — The Rowland family’s purchase of Latvia’s two leading dailies Diena and Dienas Bizness is expected to generate profit in a seven-year period, the British family announced Wednesday during a meeting in Luxembourg.
The newspapers are now part of the family’s Baltic Media Investments Fund that will focus on Baltic region and mass media. The plan is to invest in media enterprises in all three Baltic states and perhaps other countries in the region, too. Altogether more than ten mass media publications besides Diena and Dienas Bizness are planned to be bought.
Diena board chairman Aleksandrs Tralmaks revealed further plans for this newspaper Tuesday.
“We will attract more investors, and that means that the weight of this one [Rowland] family will surely become less. We do not consider dealing with local investors, because we understand that it is a very sensitive matter,” Tralmaks told politika.lv. He named Great Britain, Sweden and Luxembourg as possible investor countries for Diena’s further development.
Meanwhile Diena announced Wednesday that starting from next year full articles online will be available free of charge only for its subscribers. Others will have to register and pay a still unknown fee. The registration is mandatory already now, though until the beginning of 2010 it is free of charge. Diena is the first Latvian-language newspaper to introduce a fee-based system for its website.
Rowlands say editorial integrity to be maintained while former staff make news website
Diena has been one of Latvia’s most important news outlets since the country’s independence from the U.S.S.R. The Rowland family has tried to disperse worries about editorial independence of the newspaper — family member Jonathan Rowland said they have signed an agreement with the Bonnier Group, the previous owner of the newspaper, that independence will be ensured or face potential lawsuits and lose millions of lats.
In the meantime, the former Diena staff has created a website citadiena.lv (which translates to “other Diena”) where they are publishing their own articles. So far the site looks like any other blog, but Diena’s former editor-in-chief Anita Brauna confirmed that the plan eventually is to create a new media outlet. Whether it will be print, online, or both has not been determined.