TALLINN - Estonia's largest daily newspapers are poised to follow in the footsteps of Latvia's leading daily and start printing their own free papers.
According to reports, they have even turned to Latvia's Diena, which earlier this year began publishing a free paper, for help and possibly even cooperation.
Aripaev, Estonia's leading business daily, reported last week that Eesti Paevaleht and the Postimees daily were crunching the numbers to study the feasibility of free daily papers.
The report stated that costs of printing a free paper would run at approximately 25 's 30 million kroons (1.6 - 1.9 million euros). However, the first free paper to appear on the market could, according to estimates, take up to one-tenth of the country's large newspaper advertising market, or enough for the project to break even.
Eesti Paevaleht has said it was ready to launch a free paper in the near future and has been in negotiations with Diena over possible cooperation. In August Diena launched 5 min, a free newspaper, in Riga.
The Postimees, meanwhile, has also met with Diena.
Mart Kadastik, chairman of Eesti Meedia and chief executive of Postimees, met with Diena's director general last week, the paper reported.
"As far as I know, all newspapers are thinking about a free publication. I believe Eesti Paevaleht is in the same position as everyone else," Eesti Paevaleht chief Aavo Kokk said.
Erki Roose, general manager of Postimees, said the paper was at the moment focusing on its Russian-language daily, which is due out at the beginning of November and there was not much talk about a free newspaper.
"Of course, if someone needs to burn cash, we can take part in the rally, but I don't see much profitability in it," Roose said.
Roose added that the Estonian market had room for only one free newspaper if the aim of the venture was profit.