Incorporated: 1933 as Tages-Anzeiger für Stadt und Kanton Zurich AG
Sales: SFr 756.1 million ($490.39 million) (2001)
Stock Exchanges: Zurich
Ticker Symbol: TAG
NAIC: 511110 Newspaper Publishers; 323119 Other Commercial Printing; 511120 Periodical Publishers; 511130 Book Publishers
Tamedia AG is Switzerland’s second largest media and publishing group. Publisher of that country’s second largest newspaper, Tages-Anzeiger Zeitung, Tamedia has spread its interest to cover a variety of newspaper, magazine, radio, television, and Internet interests. The company also owned independent Swiss television station TV3, which shut down at the end of 2001. The company’s losses at TV3 were in large part responsible for depressing the company’s revenues, down to SFr 756 million in 2001 from nearly SFr 820 million the year before, while the company dipped into the red in 2001. Tamedia’s operations are divided into three primary divisions. Print Media, which includes the newspapers Tages-Anzeiger, the Sunday morning paper Sonntags Zeitung, business newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft, and shares in Zurich Express and Berner Zeitung, and magazines titles such as Annabelle, Facts, Du, Spick, and Schweizer Familie. The Electronic Media division includes the company’s TeleZüri television station, radio stations Radio 24 and Radio Basilisk, and control of Belcom, which owned Tele24, another failed independent television station. The Electronic Media division also includes the company’s Internet operations, which consist primarily of the Winner family of web sites. The third Tamedia division, Services, represents the company’s in-house printing operations, Tamedia Drukzentrum, Waser Druck, and Regor AG. Tamedia went public on the Zurich stock exchange in 2000, yet two-thirds of the company’s shares remain under the control of the Coninx family, which has owned the company since the beginning of the 20th century.
Newspaper for a New Town at the Dawn of the 20th Century
The creation of the city of Zurich—formed by combining 11 formerly independent towns in 1893—opened the opportunity for a new newspaper to serve the new city’s socially diverse population. In that year, Wilhelm Girardet, a publisher in Germany, and Swiss editor Fritz Walz joined together to launch a Zurich newspaper, the Tages-Anzeiger, owned by Wilhelm Girardet & Co. After giving the paper away for free during its first month, the company began signing up subscribers. By the end of its second month, Tages-Anzeiger boasted 25,000 subscribers and a circulation base of more than 43,000 readers. Walz’s role in the company’s success was recognized at the end of the decade, when the company changed its name to Girardet, Walz & Co., but remained a partnership.
In 1904, Tages-Anzeiger launched an illustrated weekly supplement, Zeitbilder, because printing restrictions at the time made it difficult for the company to incorporate text and images on the same page. Zeitbilder was to remain a Tages-Anzeiger institution for nearly 60 years, continuing into the 21st century as Das Magazin.
A new era for the company began when Otto Coninx, also from Germany, married Girardet’s daughter Berta. Because Girardet had tapped his own son to take over his publishing company, Otto Coninx, who had worked as an editor, was placed in charge of Tages-Anzeiger in 1905.
Girardet, Walz & Co. reincorporated as a limited liability company in 1912, although the company was still based in Germany. By 1917, the company’s newspaper had reached a circulation of 84,000. The turbulent social and political climate over the postwar period led to a decline in circulation, yet by the mid-1920s, sales of Tages-Anzeiger had started to pick up again. By then, Otto Coninx had gradually gained ownership control of the company. In 1926, the company incorporated as a Swiss company and Coninx himself took on Swiss citizenship.
The company changed its name to Tages-Anzeiger fiir Stadt und Kanton Zurich AG in 1933. By then, the company had branched out beyond its daily newspaper, adding a publishing subsidiary Regina Verlag in 1927 and acquiring the publishing rights to Das Schweizer Heim, a magazine that was to be a forerunner of the company’s later success, Schweizer Familie, the rights to which were acquired in 1933.
Switzerland’s neutrality during World War II shielded Tages-Anzeiger, which saw its daily newspaper circulation rise past 100,000 in the early 1940s. By 1950, circulation neared 125,000 copies. The company also had grown to include the second generation of the Coninx family, notably through the addition of Otto Coninx-Wettstein, who took over as managing director upon his father’s death in 1956.
Tages-Anzeiger remained the centerpiece of the company into the 1960s, as circulation topped 200,000 by the end of the decade. A number of format changes had helped in the newspaper’s success, such as the adoption of a new layout and subtitle (Non-Partisan Swiss Daily Newspaper) in 1962, and the adoption of an early morning delivery schedule. After exchanging the Zeitbilder supplement for the new color TA7 supplement in 1963, the company introduced a separate classified ads section in 1966. The following year, the company began publishing a weekly international edition of the paper.
Diversified Print Offerings in the 1980s
Tages-Anzeiger started the 1970s on a roll, with its circulation soaring past 230,000 by 1973. In 1971, the company merged Schweizer Heim into Schweizer Familie, which helped boost circulation of the newly expanded magazine to more than 300,000 copies by 1974. Yet the company’s fortunes were hit by the recession of that decade, as ad spending dropped drastically. Nonetheless, Tages-Anzeiger pushed on with its own expansion plans, notably with the construction of a new printing facility, which was ready in 1975. In 1978 the company began construction on another printing plant, on Zurich’s Bubenbergstrasse.
The third generation of the Coninx family took over the company by the end of the 1970s and led the group on a more ambitious expansion in the next decade. A new weekly supplement was added to Tages-Anzeiger in 1978, called Wochen-programm. That supplement was converted to a magazine format under a new title, Ziiri Tip, in 1983.
Tages-Anzeiger’s diversification built up steam in the early 1980s. In 1981, the company began publishing a youth-oriented—and advertising-free—magazine, Spick. That year, also, the company acquired popular women’s magazine Annabelle. The next year, the company added a second women’s title, Femina, the German-language edition of which was combined with Annabelle to create Annabelle-Femina. That year, Tages-Anzeiger also bought a controlling stake in rival newspaper Tagblatt der Stadt Zurich.
The company moved its newspaper printing to the new Bubenbergstrasse works in 1984, bringing the company into the offset printing era. The new technology led the company to redesign Tages-Anzeiger’s layout again in 1985, adding more graphics as well as adopting block pagination. With its expanded printing capacity, Tages-Anzeiger then prepared a new newspaper, a Sunday morning paper called Sonntags Zeitung, which was launched in 1987 in partnership with Berner Zeitung. Also that year, Tages-Anzeiger acquired printing and magazine group Conzett & Huber, and its popular youth-culture magazine Du.
The following year the company acquired another printing company, Waster Druck, and founded a new nonfiction book publishing subsidiary, Werd Verlag. The company then separated the Tages-Anzeiger Magazin from the newspaper, relabeling it as Das Magazin and placing it under direction of its own editorial staff. Das Magazin then became the supplement for Berner Zeitung as well.
In 1990, Tages-Anzeiger, Berner Zeitung, and Neuste Nachrichten formed the Swiss Combi advertising pool. The company then purchased a controlling share of regional newspaper publisher Bremgartner Bezirks Anzeiger, which brought the company’s newspaper division outside of Zurich for the first time. That year marked the company’s entry into the media sector, with the purchase of stakes in Metex AG, Schlosser Film AG, and Condor Production AG, as well as a controlling share of radio and TV advertising sales group Radiotele AG, later reduced to a minority position, before selling out entirely at the end of the decade.
Swiss Media Company for the New Century
In 1993, as the company continued to diversify its activities, Tages-Anzeiger adopted a new name, Tamedia AG. In that year, the company joined in the creation of another advertising pool partnership, Swiss Pool. The company’s advertising interests expanded again the following year with the acquisition of 50 percent of Press Publicité SA. In 1994, also, Tamedia made its first move into broadcasting, with the acquisition of a one-third stake in private Zurich regional television broadcaster TeleZiiri.
Guiding Principles of Our Company: 1. The Tamedia Group wants to assume a leading position as an independent Swiss media company and contribute to independent formation of opinions. 2. The focal point of our operations is in the publishing sector. We consider the quality of products and services and the economic vigor of our company to be extremely important. 3. We profess our faith in the principles of a free and open society and a market economy that takes due consideration of social and environmental factors into account. We strive to develop further in line with democratic and legal processes. 4. We want to contribute to the free, democratic and cultural development of society and to the human and professional development of our employees.
New titles for the mid-1990s included Facts, a news magazine, and Ernst, a youth-oriented newspaper, both introduced in 1995. PCTip, originally published in partnership with International Data Group as another Tages-Anzeiger supplement, was taken over entirely as the newspaper launched a dedicated computer section in 1996. The following year, Tamedia took its first steps into the Internet, with a participation in the PressWeb-operated jobs site, SwissClick.
Tages-Anzeiger took on a new layout in 1997, and added a new supplement, Alpha, a jobs section focused on the management-level jobs market. The following year the Ernst newspaper was converted as a Tages-Anzeiger supplement. In that year, the company bought a new women’s magazine, Orella, which was reformatted as Annabelle Creation. The year 1998 also marked the formation of television network TV3, in partnership with Scandinavian Broadcasting System SA. TV3 marked a new attempt to break government-owned Swiss Broadcasting Corporation’s (SBC) monopoly on the Swiss television broadcasting market. The company also purchased a 25 percent stake in private Zurich radio station Radio Zürisee.
The following year, Tamedia boosted its television position again when it increased its position in TeleZiiri to 50 percent. In 1999, also, Tamedia increased its Internet holdings when it pulled out of the PressWeb partnership and instead created a new subsidiary, Winner AG, which began developing a series of web sites under the Winner brand name. Tamedia enhanced its Internet operations in 2000 with a partnership with Swisscom’s Bluewin, the country’s leading Internet service provider. That year marked the first full year of broadcasting of TV3, the first private television station in Switzerland to offer a full programming schedule.
At the end of 2000, TV3 appeared to be winning over a share of the Swiss viewing public, with an emphasis on entertainment programming, including such popular fare as “Big Brother” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Meanwhile, Tamedia had increased its newspaper portfolio with the acquisition of Finanz und Wirtschaft, a twice-weekly business specialty with a circulation of 55,000.
The year 2000 marked the end of an era as the Coninx family, now in its fourth and fifth generations, announced its decision to launch Tamedia as a public company, placing some 20 percent of the company’s shares on the Swiss stock exchange. The Coninx family also announced its intention to divest all of its interest in the company by the end of the decade.
In November 2001, Tamedia announced that it was acquiring control of Belcom Holding AG, giving it full control of TeleZiiri AG as well. The purchase, which forced Tamedia to sell off its stake in Radio Zurisee to satisfy antitrust requirements, also placed Belcom’s struggling Tele24 national television franchise under Tamedia. Yet by then, Tamedia’s own television empire was fading fast, as the company’s audience shares were shrinking, dragging down advertising revenues. With losses at the station mounting to SFr 186 for the year, the company was forced to pull the plug at the end of December— its final broadcast schedule featured the film Titantic. The Swiss television market, which faced heavy competition from nearby German-language broadcasters in Germany, seemed unable to support an advertising-supported rival to the SBC.
By mid-2002, the damage caused by the TV3 collapse became clear, as the company was forced to post a loss for the year amid shrinking revenues. Nonetheless, Tamedia remained committed to its strategy of developing itself as a cross-media group for its second century. In July 2002, the company joined the trend toward fee-based web sites when it announced the introduction of reading fees for its online Tages-Anzeiger site.
- Tages-Anzeiger is founded as a daily newspaper by German publisher Wilhelm Girardet and editor Fritz Walz, in establishing the partnership Wilhelm Girardet & Co., based in Germany.
- The name is changed to Girardet, Walz & Co.
- Otto Coninx marries Berta Girardet and becomes head of Tages Anzeiger.
- The company becomes a Swiss corporation and Otto Coninx, who now owns the company, becomes a Swiss citizen.
- The company founds subsidiary Regina-Veriad and acquires the publishing rights to Das Schweizer Heim.
- The company changes its name to Tages-Anzeiger flir Stadt und Kanton Zurich AG; the company acquires the rights to Schweizer Familie.
- The company introduces the first major layout change of Tages-Anzeiger.
- The company begins publishing Spick, a youth-oriented magazine; the company acquires the publishing rights to Annabelle magazine.
- The company launches Sonntags Zeitung, published on Sundays.
- The company begins media interests with the acquisition of Metex and other production companies, as well as a share in Radiotele AG.
- The company changes its name to Tamedia AG.
- The company acquires one-third of TeleZiiri regional television station.
- The company launches Facts, a news magazine, and Ernst, a newspaper for young adults.
- The company launches TV3, a private television station, in partnership with Scandinavian Broadcasting System SA, with broadcasting starting in 1999.
- Tamedia goes public on the Swiss stock exchange.
- Tamedia acquires Belcom Holding AG, giving it full control of TeleZiiri and Tele24; the company shuts down TV3.
- The company begins charging fees for viewing the online version of Tages-Anzeiger.
BD Biicherdienst AG (72%); Service Zentrum Buch SZB AG (24%); Belcom Holding AG; Radio 24 AG Zurich; TeleZiiri AG 3 Zurich; Belcom AG Zurich; Takeoff-Communications AG; Ziirichvision AG 4 Zurich (66.6%); Betriebsgesellschaft SonntagsZeitung (85%); Bevo AG Berne (25%); Bonus Medien AG Zurich; Condor Communications AG (70%); DMT Marketing Support AG; Facts-Media AG; Presse Publicité Rep SA (50%); Regor AG; Tages-Anzeiger Verlag AG; TA-Internet Holding AG; Winner AG (84.5%); Verlag Finanz und Wirtschaft AG; Verlags-AG Sonntags Zeitung (85%); Waser Druck AG; Sudostschweiz Pressevertrieb AG.
Ringier AG; Basler Zeitung AG; AG fur die Neue Zurcher Zeitung; Berner Tagblatt Mediengruppe; AZ Medien AG; Lim-matdruck AG; LZ Medien Holding; Zollikofer AG; Der Bund Verlag AG; Huber und Co AG; Zurichsee Medien AG; Edipresse SA.
Blassel, Frederic, “L’ambassadeur du changement,” Webdo, August 31, 2000.
Hall, William, “TA Media Offering Set to Value Group at SFr2.5bn,” Financial Times, Sept 18, 2000, p. 32.
Maupin, Michael, “Off the Air for Tele24,” Swiss News, November 2001, p. 22.
“Readers Charged for Online Newspaper,” EuropeMedia, July 16, 2002.
“Tamedia Closes Tough IPO as Actelion Seeks SFr400m,” Euroweek, Oct 6, 2000 p. 20.
“Tamedia: Turbulences et nouvelle rotative,” Presse Romande, July 2002.
“Weak Outlook for Tamedia,” Swissinfo, October 10, 2001.