Jaffna dailies face closure due to newsprint shortage

[TamilNet, Saturday, 30 December 2006, 13:23 GMT]
Acute shortage of newsprint and printing ink in Jaffna may force closure of Tamil dailies, Uthayan, Yarl Thinakural and Valampuri, administrators at the papers' main offices said. After the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) closed A9 in 11 August, no printing material and ink were allowed into Jaffna district, officials added.

The Tamil dailies have been forced to reduce the number of pages and copies, as they have to buy the newsprint available in short supply in the open market at increased prices, staff at the Uthyan main office said.

Sri Lanka Defence Ministry has refused permission to bring in the needed newsprint despite several appeals made through the Government Agent of Jaffna, the sources added.

A ream of newsprint sold at Rs.1250 in the open market before the A9 closure, now has risen to Rs.3750 and the three Tamil dailies of the peninsula publishing 30,000 copies before, now print less than 25,000 copies.

The dailies have been also forced to cut down the normal size of the paper to tabloid size, besides reducing the number of pages.

The newspaper publication in the peninsula will have to close down completely should this shortage continue, media sources in Jaffna said.

The peninsula residents do not get newspapers published in the rest of Sri Lanka past the A9 SLA barrier. This is yet another calculated move of the SLA and the government to keep the peninsula residents in the dark and to stifle the voice of the media in Jaffna peninsula, the sources added.

The new anti-terrorism laws have further introduced a chilling effect forcing the few traditionally liberal English medium publications in Colombo to self-censor articles. The papers have avoided publishing articles that criticize Sri Lanka Government policy, and any material that can be perceived as "supporting terrorism."

Editor of Sunday Leader has also been threatened with arrest for printing stories innimical to "national security."


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