Call for newspaper publishers to work together to promote and safeguard industry

FACED with challenges from multiple fronts, newspaper publishers need to work together and strategise to promote and safeguard the industry, says Malaysian Newspaper Publishers Association (MNPA) chairman Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid.

“MNPA must get its act together and contribute as much as possible to stay relevant in the media industry. Although competition among members was healthy, there must be a sense of urgency among the print fraternity as the industry was fighting for its survival,” he said.

Jalil, who is also chief executive officer of New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd, was unanimously elected chairman at the recent 45th annual general meeting of MNPA.

Other members of the MNPA Executive Committee comprised Makkal Osai, Nanyang, See Hua, Sin Chew, Sinar Karangkraf, The Star, The Sun and Utusan Melayu.

With print newspaper circulation on the decline, the evolution of media business models worldwide points to an increasingly digital and diverse future, Jalil says in a statement.

“The identities of some published media brand owners are no longer simply defined by their print publications, but have now evolved into wider media brands with multiple products such as websites, events, seminars, conferences, apps, videos and more,” he says.

Jalil says MNPA members must help to ensure that the print share of voice continues to be heard.

“The transparency and measurement issues with digital and the existence of fake news will work as an advantage to print. Content creation has always been our forte,” he adds.

At the same time, consumer behaviour is changing as digital devices and online presence has expanded the audience for news brands.

Newspaper audience uses multiple devices to access news and younger adults prefer Internet to print for news. Mobile is consuming more media time per day.

Mobile devices are an important daily news source. The threat from pure play digital news media and news aggregators are also to be reckoned with. Although digital edition revenue is growing from a low base, it is not replacing lost print revenues.

In 2016, print adex declined 13% but there is dramatic growth in digital advertising. Content marketing is diverting budgets from advertising, while digital video is taking ad revenue from TV. Mobile will drive digital ad revenue while squeezing print.

“While print circulation numbers used to define a media brand, now they are simply one measurement among many following the mass digitalisation and diversification of the media industry worldwide,” Jalil says.

Recapping some of the activities for 2016, the newly elected MNPA chairman says the highlight of the year was obtaining personal tax relief for print newspaper subscriptions from the government.

“Members would have to leverage this advantage in their marketing for readers. This year, we will request the government to extend the relief for digital replicas and publications,” he says.

Other activities planned for this year include a digital marketing course, a bowling tournament for members, and a futsal competition.

In order to encourage new talents into the industry, an Editors Forum is being planned to take place at various universities to promote journalism and reading.

Jalil says MNPA also continues to have good working relations with the Malaysian Advertisers Association, the Media Specialists Association, Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia, Advertising Standards Advisory Malaysia and Audit Bureau of Circulations Malaysia.

MNPA is the voice of Malaysia’s daily newspaper industry – a RM3.6bil advertising medium read by 10 million adults a week.

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