Another paper bites the dust

Claiming “financial crisis”, Messenger Media yesterday published the last issue of its daily Messenger newspaper. The three-year-old paper was a free sheet for its first two years, but the introduction of a K100 cover price over the past year failed to stem the losses.

Managing editor Ko Thura Aung denied reports that the closure was related to the country’s changed political situation, or that it had anything to do with the fact that it was owned by U Zaw Min Aye, the son of the chair of the Union Election Commission, U Tin Aye.

“Anyone who says that is an idiot and knows nothing about running a newspaper,” he said. “It’s very difficult to publish continuously because we lost whenever the circulation rose. We were losing money with each copy we sold.”

Messenger Media will continue publishing a weekly journal also known as Messenger, as well as a Mandalay-based daily newspaper, Mandalay Ahlin.

“We will continue to publish those two as long as possible, but I don’t know how long that will be,” he told The Myanmar Times.

According to the press scrutiny department of the Ministry of Information, more than 30 newspapers, publishing in English and Myanmar, have been licensed since April 2013, when the government ended a five-decade state monopoly on daily publishing.

However, only one-third are still in circulation and nearly all that have survived are said to be losing money. Some, such as Shwe Than Lwin Media’s Democracy Today, are bankrolled by owners with other, more profitable business interests.

Publishers have blamed a lack of advertising, low consumer spending power and competition from heavily subsidised state newspapers for their inability to make money.

U Thiha Saw, a member of the press council and former owner of Myanmar Freedom Daily, which folded last year, said the golden age of newspapers in Myanmar had foundered on two problems. “One is logistics and the other is advertising revenue,” he said. “You have to solve both to survive.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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