Vienna, Austria: The world’s largest trade fair for the newspaper publishing industry opened in Vienna on Monday amidst a global economic downturn, but with an optimistic note for the future.
IFRA Expo 2009 drew 284 exhibitors from 27 countries, including printing press manufacturers, editorial and advertising system providers and other suppliers to the newspaper industry. Despite the global economic crisis and its impact on newspaper industry revenues, thousands of visitors from more than 80 countries are expected to attend the four-day Expo, which covers more than 11,000 square meters of space at the Reed Messe Wien Exhibition Centre.
“This is the 39th Ifra Expo, and very few before this one have taken place in such a challenging media environment,” said Reiner Mittelbach, co-CEO of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the organiser of the event. “We are all the more pleased with the turnout, and we’re once again able to present a comprehensive view of the newspaper and media markets.”
Horst Pirker, Vice President of WAN-IFRA and President of the Austrian Newspaper Publishers Association, called the Expo “an encouraging sign” despite the “double crisis” facing the industry – the economic downturn combined with the structural transformation as newspapers convert from print to multimedia businesses.
Dr Pirker said newspapers will continue to develop their digital platforms, but that digital media will co-exist with print, rather than replace it. “We are going to need new distribution channels and new business models and strategies, new technologies,” he said. “But we believe in the future of newspapers and also the future of newspapers on paper.”
The Expo was opened by Josef Ostermayer, the Austrian Secretary of State for Coordination and Media, who said it was important to preserve and support a diverse media industry.
“We do not want a purified, slimmed down media market,” he said. “We are for a variety of media enterprises, for preserving the stability of the media market, as it is an important pre-requisite for democracy.”
“We can really say there is a future for this industry, and this Expo is a sign of it,” he said.