February 2, 2018 / 1:32 PM / 2 months ago

Editor of Germany's Bild quits as print loses out to digital

BERLIN (Reuters) - The editor-in-chief of German red-top tabloid Bild, Europe’s best-selling newspaper, quit on Friday after losing a power struggle with the head of its digital edition.

Chief editors of Bild newspaper Julian Reichelt and Tanit Koch (L-R) attend the "Bild 100" event in Berlin, Germany September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos

Tanit Koch, 40, resigned after two years at the helm of publisher Axel Springer’s flagship print title. In a message to staff, she said her working relationship with digital chief Julian Reichelt broke down last year.

“In the year 2017 my readiness to compromise reached its limits,” Koch said in the email, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The management ructions offer a rare insight into the inner workings of Europe’s largest digital publisher, which was founded by the late Axel Springer in 1946. His widow, Friede, remains the main owner of the company.

Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner said that the double act at the top of Bild had not worked out as intended.

“We meant the division of editorial responsibilities well, but in practice it didn’t work because the setup didn’t fit with Bild,” Doepfner said in a statement, expressing regret at Koch’s departure.

Reichelt, 37, would take overall charge at Bild.

Bild’s print circulation has halved to around 2 million since the turn of the millennium. Although its advertising revenues were strong in the last quarter, the drift of readers away to online news sites has been relentless.

Digital operations now account for more than 70 percent of revenues and core profits at Axel Springer, which in addition to news is focusing on its faster growing jobs and real estate classifieds businesses.

Springer announced in November it would eliminate some jobs as its restructures its German business into digital and print divisions, seeking to accelerate growth online while maximizing profits from its legacy titles.

It has also expanded its footprint, buying Business Insider in a play to target financially savvy millennial readers in the United States and elsewhere after missing out to Japan’s Nikkei in a bidding war for the Financial Times.

Reporting by Noah Barkin and Klaus Lauer; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Alison Williams

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