The CEO of Norwegian media company VG today defended an apparent U-turn over the company's planned print and online merger.

The merger, which is understood to be taking place in March, will see Torry Pedersen become editor-in-chief of Schibsted-owned VG, in addition to his current position as CEO.

Speaking to in March 2008, Pedersen, then editor-in-chief of the online operation, said "print and online are different disciplines and will only become more different".

"Until now, we have been so fortunate as to be able to develop on our own and build our own culture," he added.

"Our success is to a large extent built on the fact that VG online has had its own floor and been separate from the rest of the newspaper," he added.

"Until now, we have been so fortunate as to be able to develop on our own and build our own culture," he added.

Speaking to today, Pedersen said he stood by his comments that VG's organisation "was absolutely paramount to" its success, but said it is now "better handled with another set up".

"The news ecology is developing. Even our own brand is fragmented. One million of our web readers do not read the paper, and half a million of our papers readers do not read our web. Put mobile and tablets on top of that and it becomes clear that those who master this system best will be the winners.

"This has become even more obvious: to sustain the revenue stream from our paper as long and healthy as possible will be the best fundament for our digital innovation."

Moving forward with the merger Pedersen said its implementation does not have "a strict roadmap", but would work on reducing the divide between the print and online operations.

"Our aim is to systematically build competence across the analogue/digital divide, be aware of the cultural differences, replicate the best from both organisations, do not try to do everything at once, and continue to innovate and decide with speed."

"If we are able to get all our qualified staff behind the visions we feel our competitive edge will be improved," he added.

"But the complexity of the operation is growing by the minute. To handle the transformation will be a demanding task."

When asked if the merger will result in any staff reductions Pedersen said that it was "not initiated with the aim to reduce staff" but added that "all newspaper companies will have to operate more effectively as a consequence of the digital transition".

According to reports from within Norway, the move has been accepted by both the print and online journalism unions.

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