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Utusan chief refutes reports Malaysian paper closing down

This article is more than 12 months old

KUALA LUMPUR: The Utusan Group is not going to close down its operation today, but will instead increase the price of its papers by 50 sen (17 Singapore cents) starting Friday to try to ensure its survival.

Its executive chairman 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," he said.

"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."

Mr Abd Aziz 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," he said.

"We call upon the Malay community to express their support for Utusan by buying our papers."

Mr 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 RM9 million 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," he said.

"But to help sustain us in this industry, we need people to continue buying our papers."

Mr 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 (people).

"We are not racist," he said.

Utusan Malaysia's National Union of Journalists chief Tawfek Abdul Razak said the staff would be getting RM2,000 partial salary by yesterday night.

"Umno has injected between RM1.6m and RM1.7m to settle part of our salary.

"The unpaid salary issue will be settled as soon as the company disposes its RM60m printing plant in Bangi," he said. - THE STAR