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Tamil newspaper owners prefer monopoly, says new player

 | January 15, 2013

The co-owner of a new daily says the owners of Tamil newspapers should welcome and face competition.

KUALA LUMPUR: Owners of Tamil newspapers currently in circulation fear competition from new players who have been given the green light by the government to enter the Tamil newspaper market.

K Saraswathy, the joint owner of a new a vernacular daily named Tamil Malar, said owners of newspapers currently in circulation were trying to stop or delay the issuance of permits for new Tamil newspapers.

“They (owners of Tamil dailies) are intensifying their pressure in an undesirable manner with the calculated and wholesome motive to stop or at least delay issuance of new permits,” she told FMT.

Recently, Tamil newspapers owners in the country complained over the government’s decision to award printing permits for new Tamil dailies.

They claimed that the Tamil newspaper market was saturated with five dailies and allowing more newspapers will only affect their business.

However, Saraswathy, who is also a lawyer, quashed this argument saying that the Tamil newspaper owners should welcome and face competition.

“They should not try to win the race by eliminating others and continue enjoying victory by default. There are six Chinese dailies and numerous Chinese magazines in the country. Can the current players also seek similar freeze (in issuance of permits)?” she questioned.

Saraswathy, jointly owns Tamil Malar with former Makkal Osai general manager SM Periasamy. The newspaper had its publication permit approved by the Home Ministry on Dec 10 last year.

Ever since news broke out that there would be a new newspaper in town, some quarters, including current newspaper owners, had piled pressure on the government to stop issuing permits for such vernacular dailies.

Hypocrite politicians

Saraswathy said the Tamil Malar will take full advantage of “poor reporting” in the current newspapers to attract readers.

“Only political fights dominated the Tamil media over the past two decades. And many who can read Tamil do not buy Tamil papers because of the reporting quality,” she added.

On limited Tamil readership, she said the future of Tamil newspapers and Tamil schools were ruined by “hypocrite politicians.”

“They (politicians) use Tamil school issues for their political mileage but do not support the cause. The number of Tamil readers are dwindling. This directly causes slide in Tamil newspaper readership,” said Saraswathy.

She said even now, several managing directors of several Tamil newspapers themselves were Tamil illiterate.

“They can’t even read their own newspapers. How can they comment on readership. These people just want to guard their own business interests,” she added.

Currently there are five Tamil dailies in the market. They are Tamil Nesan, Makkal Osai, Malaysian Nanban, Thina Kural and Naam Naadu.

Tamil Nesan is owned by the family of former MIC president S Samy Vellu, while Malaysia Nanban was founded by late Sikhandar Batcha. Makkal Osai belongs to former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam; ThinaKural was founded by K Arun, the son of charismatic Tamil writer, the late Athi Kumanan; and Nam Naadu is owned by businessman Kenneth Eswaran.

Show cause letter

Meanwhile, a Home Ministry source confirmed that the ministry has issued show cause letters to four Tamil dailies.

Last week, Tamil Nesan, Makkal Osai, Malaysia Nanban and Thinakural ran articles questioning the government’s rational in giving out more Tamil newspaper permits.

They also issued a veiled threat that they would be forced to publish opposition based articles in the fight for readership.

FMT also learns that the government has granted another Tamil newspaper permit to a famous Tamil television host. The industry is also eagerly waiting for confirmation on the latest speculation.


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