BANGKOK (AP) — The Nation, one of Thailand’s two English-language dailies, announced Thursday it will stop publishing its print edition by the end of June but will continue with an online version.
The CEO of the Nation Multimedia Group, Somchai Meesaen, said the newspaper will switch to digital platforms starting July 1 because its profit has declined in the past decade.
“It will be The Nation’s new step,” he said on a program on the group’s television channel, confirming reports that had circulated in other media a day earlier.
The Nation was founded in 1971 largely as a progressive alternative to the English-language market-leading Bangkok Post, which was seen as too conservative as pro-democracy activists were struggling against a military dictatorship.
The Nation for many years was a gadfly to the more established Post, which survives it, and was rarely financially strong, though it launched a companion television channel in 2000.
The Nation went through a period of relative prosperity during Thailand’s economic boom of the 1980s and early 1990s, but like many Thai media was devastated by Asia’s 1997 financial crisis, which saw advertising revenues crash, especially from the real estate sector that was behind the boom and bust.
Some publications went out of business, but The Nation struggled along, however without regaining its financial vitality. It exhibited some of its old crusading spirit in its strident coverage of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was accused of corruption and abuse of power before being ousted by a 2006 military coup, setting off a decade of political instability.
Suthichai Yoon, one of The Nation’s co-founders, guided the newspaper through most of its history but left after a takeover in January last year by a conservative media group. An elder statesman in the media world, he now mostly hosts television news programs.
Current Nation Group chairman Somchai said The Nation required changes because only around 26% of its readers are Thai, while around 70% of its readers are foreigners who may not have access to the print newspapers. He said its readers aged 25-40 are mostly using new media platforms.
The Nation has been losing money at a rate of around 30 million baht ($1 million) a year for about the past 10 years, he said.
Somchai said The Nation’s new digital platform will include automatic audio-voice reading and potentially a Chinese-language version.
Somchai said the company’s television channel will incorporate content from one of its television variety channels that it is closing down. He said the company’s “new media” — its new online and broadcasting initiative — is expected to grow by an annual rate of around 20% and the company will also hire more personnel in that field.