Circulation and Ad Losses Force Swiss Paper to Close

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LA Suisse, once the most popular daily newspaper in French-speaking Switzerland, brought out its final edition yesterday after almost 96 years on the streets.

The independent Geneva daily had been hit by a combination of financial problems, including a sharp fall in advertising revenue over the past five years. From a peak of more than 100,000, its daily sales had declined to fewer than 60,000.

In an emotional closing edition, marked ``Final'' in large black letters, the paper's 400 staffers pledged to continue their battle to save and relaunch the title.

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They were fighting a race against time, however. The board of the independent paper had until midnight Sunday to accept a $3.5 million offer from a rival group for its client list and high-quality printing center.

The staff cooperative that wants to relaunch the paper was offering the same amount - but said it could not raise the money for several days.

Editor Jean-Claude Nicole, whose grandfather edited and controlled the left-leaning paper for 35 years until 1964, described La Suisse's closure as a ``great injustice'' and claimed that it had been deliberately targeted by its competitors.

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