Ministry Asks Publishers To Help News Vendors

The Ministry of Information on Tuesday issued a statement urging the nation’s newspapers and magazines to help resellers boost their measly profit margins.

Minister of Information Khieu Kan­harith said in an interview Tues­day that newspaper and magazine merchants had complained to the ministry that their profits are too small and urged publishers to low­er their wholesale prices. Pub­lishers who do so could make up those lost circulation revenues with advertising dollars, he said.

“If newspapers and magazines want to help the resellers, newspapers and magazines can make revenue from advertisement,” he said.

Sok Bunnath, president of the Newspaper Resellers Association, which represents about 100 newsstands in Phnom Penh, said that inflation has made the paltry profits they earn untenable.

She said that resellers buy popular Khmer-language newspapers like Koh Santepheap Daily and Rasmei Kampuchea Daily for 560 riel each and sell them for 700 riel. Kampuchea Thmey Daily wholesales for 600 riel a copy and retails for 700 riel. Profit on domestic magazines is not much higher, about 500 riel per copy, she said.

“If we can make more revenue from selling newspapers, we will have energy to do the job; otherwise, we will stop selling newspapers,” she said, adding: “My speculation is that we will stop selling newspapers.”

Pen Samithy, the editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea and president of the Cambodian Club of Journalists, said Tuesday that he agrees with the ministry that re­sellers have a problem, but he says newspapers can’t afford to cut their prices. Readers, he said, will have to bear the brunt of inflation.

“We cannot decrease the [wholesale] price but will increase the [retail] price,” he said, adding that he would speak with his publisher about raising his paper’s sales price from 700 riel to 1,000 riel and pass the additional profit on to resellers.

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