‘Globe,’ ‘Herald’ Spar Over ‘Metro’ Deal

BOSTON Boston Herald publisher Patrick Purcell wrote the second-day lead to yesterday’s news that The New York Times Co. has agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in Boston’s free daily Metro newspaper from its publisher, Metro International, which is based in Sweden.

In a statement, Purcell blasted the deal as “anticompetitive” and said he intends to “contest this on grounds that the largest newspaper in Eastern Massachusetts is making an in-market acquisition that does not meet Justice Department standards.”

Purcell was referring to his main rival, The Boston Globe, which the Times Co. also owns.

Globe publisher Richard Gilman issued a statement defending the Metro deal, noting that with 18 paid daily newspapers, the Boston area “may well be the most competitive newspaper market in the country.”

The Times Co. said it would pay $16.5 million for the Metro, which was launched nearly four years ago and has become popular with the area’s younger commuters [Adweek Online, Jan. 4].

Metro has a circulation of approximately 180,000 and claims about 300,000 readers per day. The Times said reaching those twenty- and thirty-something consumers and expanding its regional audience motivated the deal.

The agreement “furthers our long-term strategy of serving our audiences in Boston,” said Janet Robinson, president and chief executive officer of The Times Co., in a statement.

Pelle Tornberg, president and CEO of Metro International, said, “This new venture will further increase the potential for operations in the United States and follows our successful synergistic partnerships elsewhere, reflecting increasing interest in the ‘Metro’ concept.”

As part of the agreement, the Globe will now provide some non-exclusive content to the Metro. The papers will also team up on advertising initiatives and in some cases offer joint packages to advertisers.

Metro also publishes papers in other North American cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Montreal and Toronto.

The Times also owns stakes in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and New England Sports Network cable TV.