KUALA LUMPUR: The Utusan Group is not going to close down its operation on Wednesday (Aug 21), but will instead increase the price of its papers by 50 sen starting Friday (Aug 23) to try to ensure its survival.
Its executive chairman Datuk Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir said the price of Utusan Malaysia would be increased from RM1.50 to RM2, while the price of Kosmo would be raised from RM1 to RM1.50.
"We are in a do-or-die situation.
"We need to mark up the price of the paper, push harder to generate greater advertisement revenue and boost our online content, as well as increase the number of e-paper subscribers.
"By increasing the price of the papers, we hope to generate about RM2.3mil a month, and thus reduce our current monthly deficit from RM3mil to RM750,000," he told a press conference Tuesday (Aug 20).
Abd Aziz also shot down claims that Utusan would soon close shop because it was not financially viable.
"We are looking into a viable business model.
"We are not closing our doors on mergers, if there are potential investors.
"We call upon the Malay community to express their support for Utusan by buying our papers," he said.
Abd Aziz also viewed positively the picketing held in support of Utusan staff who had been deprived of their monthly salary, as the company recorded RM9mil in losses in the second quarter of the year.
"The picketing resulted in overwhelming support for Utusan. People have come forward to contribute cash and rice.
"But to help sustain us in this industry, we need people to continue buying our papers," he said.
Abd Aziz also denied allegations that Umno controlled the media.
"(Umno president) Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has never called me to make demands on matters related to editorial content.
"Umno has owned Utusan from 1961, and Utusan always fought in the interest of the rakyat.
"We are not racist," he said.
Utusan Malaysia's National Union of Journalist chief Tawfek Abdul Razak said the staff would be getting RM2,000 partial salary by Tuesday night.
"Umno has injected between RM1.6mil and RM1.7mil to settle part of our salary.
"The unpaid salary issue will be settled soon as the company disposes its RM60mil printing plant in Bangi," he said.