A new gesture of raising Egypt’s daily and weekly newspaper prices has sparked controversy among journalists, as the market of printed publishing is already facing challenges amid the peak of digital journalism.
Egypt’s National Press Authority (NPA) said on Wednesday that it is considering raising the prices of newspapers with EGP 1 for the daily issue and EGP 2 for the weekly one. The increase will be applied on state and privately owned issues.
The gesture came “as a result of the global increase of paper prices by 100%,” stated Karam Gabr, head of the NPA, adding, “press institutions consume papers with an annual cost of EGP 700m. This cost was earlier EGP 400m.” Additionally, Gabr announced the decision after meeting with heads of national and private newspapers.
However, Gabr asserted in televised statements that “the increase will be limited,” adding “it will be discussed and applied starting from September.”
Gabr justified the decision by saying that it will reduce financial losses that some press institutions are recently facing, due to the increase of printing expenses.
Abdel Mohsen Salama, head of Egypt’s press syndicate said that both the NPA and the press syndicate are considering alternative solutions to solve the crisis, including establishing a paper factory to address the needs of papers in the country.
“Floating the Egyptian pound leads to multiplying printing expenses by three times, as all supplies including printing machines, ink and papers are being imported,” said Salama in an interview with the ‘Hona Al’asema’ TV show on CBC on Thursday.
Salama noted that “paper prices increased from $520 for the ton to nearly $980.”
Prices of Egyptian daily newspapers are now ranging from EGP 2 to EGP 3. Some press institutions are considering issuing specialised supplements, especially economic ones as it may help in raising revenues through advertisements.
Amr Badr, a member of the press syndicate council criticised the decision, describing it as “a new step in the way of (ending) press.” Badr said via his Facebook account that the gesture will lead to a decrease in the sales of newspapers, as just a few people are still buying printed issues.
Meanwhile, Abdel Moneim Saeed, the chairman of Al Masry Al Youm said that the decision could reduce the number of printed newspaper readers, noting in televised statements that all choices are available for private newspapers to take the appropriate decision.