CPP-Affiliated Newspaper Set to Shut Down

The Evening News, a Khmer- language daily newspaper linked to the CPP, will shut down Dec 28, managers said Wed­nesday.

“Our business is losing about $5,000 per month,” said Kong Sein, an Evening News executive. “We cannot afford to keep losing this money.”

He said the newspaper would fol­low the labor law and pay its 25 employees three months’ salary when it closes. Reporters earn between $100 and $120 per month, while editors make be­tween $130 and $150.

Staffers, who asked not to be identified, said the paper earns about $500 per month from newsstand sales and $1,000 from advertisements. At about $0.18 per copy, that gives the paper a circulation of nearly 3,000.

“Our paper’s income is less than its expenditures,” editor-in-chief Khuon Vicheat said. He said the newspaper’s market is “narrow and small” and that it has been losing readers to television, radio and the Internet.

The newspaper was established on Jan 7, 1997. From its in­ception, it has been a reliable source of information on the CPP’s plans and activities.

“I will miss it,” said Lao Mong Hay of the Khmer Institute of Democracy, a regular reader. “It reflected the CPP view, and I learned some things from it.”

Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state with the Ministry of In­for­ma­tion, said he was surprised to learn of the closing. Only about 20 of the nation’s 200 registered publications print with any regularity, he said, and the six-day-a-week Evening News was a reputable publication.

“We never had any reason to close it down or bring it to court,” he said. “If they are losing money, maybe it is because they were too ambitious. If they trimmed back [staff] a little, maybe they could keep going.”

Evening News staffers say they don’t understand why their newspaper is failing while other CPP-aligned publications, such as Ras­mei Kampuchea and Koh San­tep­heap, appear profitable.

“We are trying to find out if it is really bankrupt,” said one. “We are loyal to the Evening News, but if we find out that the government has transferred funding to another newspaper, we will speak out Dec 29.”

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