Egypt’s partisan newspapers on brink of collapse



Sun, 08 Jul 2018 - 08:09 GMT


Sun, 08 Jul 2018 - 08:09 GMT

An Arabic man reading a newspaper in Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon, November, 2010 – Flickr/Thomas Leuthard

An Arabic man reading a newspaper in Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon, November, 2010 – Flickr/Thomas Leuthard

CAIRO – 8 July 2018: Heads of the partisan newspapers have shaken their heads in disappointment over a recent hike in the printing cost, which has increased by 45 percent. They have urged the state to intervene to save the partisan newspapers.

Nabil Zaki, CEO of the four-decade old newspaper Al-Ahali published by the National Progressive Unionist Party said that the future of the partisan newspapers in Egypt is uncertain if the state did not intervene to support them.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Zaki revealed that Al-Ahali newspaper administration has met with Abdel Mohsen Salama, head of Egypt’s Press Syndicate and Al-Ahram CEO, on Tuesday to ask for support from the state-owned newspaper.

Al-Ahram has rejected Al-Ahali’s proposal to reduce the recent hike in the print cost from 45 to 15 percent, according to Zaki. However, the Secretary General of the publishing party, Mohamed Farag, said that Salama has agreed to bring down the hike to 30 percent.

Following a meeting for the party on Saturday to discuss the probability of stopping publishing their newspaper, Farag affirmed that it is not possible to shut the newspaper as it is the party’s sole media tool.

This is reportedly the third hike in the print cost since the currency float in Egypt that took place in November, 2016.

Al-Ahram has numerous print presses, where various newspapers have banked on to get their versions printed. Salama said, in an interview with Yasmine Said on MBC Masr, that Al-Ahram prints four newspapers including private and partisan ones, which he said have heavy debts.

Salama revealed during the interview that Al-Ahram also suffers from heavy debts, accumulated during the seven years that follow the January 25 revolution in 2011.

He also revealed that cost of the printng papers has recently increased from $540 to $979, calling on the state to subsidize such costs including papers and ink, which are all imported.

Zaki recently revealed that his newspaper owe Al-Ahram about LE 2 million ($111,926).

President of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, Makram Mohamed Ahmed has promised Zaki to intervene to solve Al-Ahali crisis by subsidizing the priniting papers at least for the partisan newspapers, according to Zaki. However, efforts have failed.

Apparently confirming Salama’s remarks, Yasser Qoura, assistant head of Al-Wafd party affirmed that the printed press industry is not limited to partisan newspapers. National and private newspapers also suffer the same crisis, due to the increase in the cost of printing papers globally.

Qoura said that shutting the party’s 34-year old daily newspaper is not up for discussion, despite the decreasing circulation rates recently due to the competition with social media and online newspapers.

Ahmed Abdel Hady, Editor-in-chief of the online Egypt Youth newspaper, said that the Press Syndicate does not have goodstrategic plans to manage the crisis of the partisan press.

The Press Syndicate and the Supreme Council for Media Regulation have failed to fulfill their duty concerning the partisan press, Abdel Hady said, explaining that the directors of the two entities are not fully aware of the electronic journalism development.

Abdel Hady, whose Egypt Youth party was licensed in 2005, said that a number of partisan newspapers already closed their doors since 2011, as a result of the breakdown and the economic meltdwon which have occurred since then. He also affirmed that the rest of the still-operating partisan newspapers suffer financial crises that could lead to their closure.

Abdel Hady reportedly called for clearing the debts of the partisan newspapers or restructuring them and reducing the print cost as in case of the national newspapers, as he claims.

Egypt Youth newspaper had claimed that “it has crossed all the red lines in opposing the Egyptian regime and its figures at the time.” However, the party announed supporting the incumbent Egyptian president at the time in the Presidential election held last March between current President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and Head of Al-Ghad party Moussa Mostafa Moussa.

Sayed Al-Toukhy , Al-Karama newspaper Editor-in-chief, which is published by the left-wing Dignity party founded in 1996, told Egypt Today that the journalism industry in general has suffered from low circulation and lack of ads.

Toukhy warned that shutting the partisan newspapers will mainly harm journalists and people working in the profession. In addition, it will affect the right of citizens to get diverse knowledge.

“The Press Syndicate has to clearly and directly interfere to save partisan papers from collapse,” Toukhy said, according to media reports.

He urged the state to be fair by funding private newspapers through providing them with papers and subsidized print cost, saying that the state funds the significant national newspapers with “hundreds of millions and billions [of pounds].”

However, Toukhy affirmed that there is no intension to shut down the newspaper which has suffered for years, adding that the party’s newspaper will resist until the last breath.

Decreasing circulation rates

The circulation rates of the Egyptian printed newspapers have decreased from over a billion in 2010 to 534.6 millions in 2016, according to Egypt’s official Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Although the circulation rates of the printed newspapers have increased from 2005 to 2010 by 14.5 percent, according to CAPMAS, they have continuously decreased since 2011.

The circulation rates also decreased from 2015 to 2016 by 4.6 percent, accordinf to the official agency.

Additional reporting by Amr Kandil, Mohamed Al-Sayed, Ramy Saieed



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