FILE: A side view of a newspaper – Creative Commons
CAIRO – 8 August 2018: Head of Egypt's National Press Authority (NPA) Karam Gabr said that the Wednesday meeting of the boards of national newspapers and editors of private press institutions suggested raising the prices of publications.
The meeting was set to discuss ways to rationalize distribution expenses as well as increasing paper prices, said Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Printing and Publishing House, Saad Selim.
Selim pointed out that the increase in paper prices is a concern for press organizations, especially after the 100 percent increase.
Gabr said that the meeting recommended forming a committee to search for new outlets for selling publications and conducting a feasibility study on establishing a paper mill.
Abdel Mohsen Salama, head of Egypt’s Press Syndicate, revealed that the cost of printing papers has recently increased from $540 to $979, calling on the state to subsidize such costs including papers and ink, which are all imported.
During the Wednesday meeting, Salama said that the rise in newspapers’ prices will not exceed LE 1 ($0.056), adding that it is a temporary solution.
Salama said that the meeting discussed solutions to the crisis including a mill in Egypt to manufacture papers. He added that the attendees agreed on establishing the mill to provide national, private and partisan newspapers with printing papers.
Khaled Salah, chairman of the board of directors and editor-in-chief of Youm7 newspaper, called for raising the prices of daily publications to LE5 ($0.28) and raising weekly publications to LE7 ($0.39), due to the crisis print journalism is facing.
Ahmed Bedeir, general manager of Dar El Shorouk publishing house, called for making the rise in newspapers’ prices gradual, as individuals’ salaries are static. He also called for opening a discussion with private and partisan newspapers as they are not financially backed by the state.
Bedeir suggested not raising the prices of all newspapers equally, as they vary in number of pages.
Seemingly not suggesting raising newspapers’ prices, Veto private newspaper’s Editor-in-chief Essam Kamel called for issuing a new draft law containing a number of suggestions including pushing the state to subsidize printing paper, as newspapers are participating in the war against terrorism.
Kamel said raising newspapers’ prices is not a satisfying solution because citizens will not handle the price hike of goods and services well nowadays.
Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation Abdel Fatah al-Gebali said that the state needs to back journalism, not national institutions only.
Gebali also issued a number of suggestions to solve the paper crisis; he called on the state to develop the paper mill in the modern Qena governorate’s Qus, attract investigators in the field of paper industry.
The newspapers will start to be sold in new prices starting Sept. 1, according to media reports. National newspapers are expected to cost LE3 ($0.17) instead of LE2 ($0.11).
The National Press Authority pointed out earlier that the Wednesday discussion comes within the framework of preserving the long history of Egyptian press and trying to look for alternative solutions that can help preserve this industry.
Mostafa Bakri, a member of the House of Representatives and the editor-in-chief of El-Osbo'a, said earlier: “Everyone is suffering from this crisis and print press is threatened and its journalists are threatened with homelessness.”
This will be reportedly the third hike in the print cost since the currency float in Egypt that took place in November 2016.
In an interview in July, Abdel Mohsen Salama said that state-owned Al-Ahram and a number of private and partisan newspapers have heavy debts.
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 partisan newspapers.
Nabil Zaki, CEO of the four-decade old newspaper Al-Ahali published by the National Progressive Unionist Party, said in July that the future of the partisan newspapers in Egypt is uncertain if the state did not intervene to support them.
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.
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].”
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 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, according to the official agency.