French Weekly to Print Final Edition on Thurs

Cambodge Soir Hebdo, Cambodia’s only French-language newspaper, will print its final edition on Thursday due to falling revenues in hard financial times, the newspaper’s director said yesterday.

The newspaper’s 30 employees were informed of its closure at the start of business yesterday, according to staff members.

Founded in 1995, the Soir became a daily in 1997 but ceased publication in 2007 after staff members resigned en masse to protest the dismissal of a reporter who was fired on political grounds.

With some staff returning to work, the newspaper was re-launched in 2007 as a weekly but failed to gain a broad expatriate readership.

Former staff members launched the Internet website Ka-Set in 2007, but this ceased operations in December after running out of money.

The newspaper’s director, Jerome Moriniere, said staff were assured yesterday that they would be paid for the month of October, allowing them time to find new employment.

Annual subsidies of about $62,000 from an international francophone organization, as well as support from the paper’s board of directors, had not been enough to make up for weak sales and advertising revenues, he said, noting that the paper sold 900 of 1,500 copies printed weekly.

Mr Moriniere said he had been aware of the newspaper’s declining fortunes before Monday’s announcement. “The situation had been worsening for some time,” he said.

However, Pen Bona, co-editor-in-chief, said news of the paper’s final edition had been “a but surprising.”

“I cannot be more royalist than the King,” he said of Cambodia’s declining French-language media. “But personally I think the disappearance of Cambodge Soir Hebdo is a great loss for Cambodia.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said yesterday he had been a supporter of the newspaper, but that he believed there could have been ways to reduce printing costs and to place the paper among a greater number of hotels and restaurants serving French tourists and expatriates.

“Cambodge Soir is really professional but the problem is that they don’t know how to market their newspaper,” Mr Kanharith said. “If they were aggressive in their marketing, maybe they can make it.”

 

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