Newspapers, mags in far west hit by postal hike

Dipayal, November 6:

The number of readers of magazines and newspapers published in hilly areas of the far-western region has been dwindling after the government hiked postal charges five months ago.

Various publishers complained the people of this region are deprived of their right to information and the newspaper business is facing crisis.

Locals are dependent on the postal service to get newspapers and letters due to the lack of transportation.

Previously, a 10-paisa postal stamp was enough to send any newspaper to any village of the region. Now, locals have to pay one to two rupees more for each newspaper.

Ram Bahadur Aira, publisher and editor of Doti-based Bimba weekly said: “Rural people stopped subscribing to local papers after the increase in postal charges. Increase in charges means extra expense for readers. It is difficult to run newspapers.”

According to local journalists, the government is trying to curb press freedom by hiking postal charges in rural areas.

The situation worsened for journalists outside the capital after the February 1 takeover, they said. “The government is making it difficult for the publishers by refusing them government advertisements and increasing the postal charges,” Ganesh Joshi, editor of Doti-based Khaptad Express weekly, said. He said the circulation of his newspaper had gone down by 50 per cent.

At present, around a dozen newspapers — including weeklies, bimonthlies and monthlies — are published in the hilly districts of the far-western region.

The government advertisements stopped coming to private papers at the behest of “those above”, several local publishers said.

DR Panta, central vice-president of FNJ, far western region, said: “Concession should provided on postal charges for newspapers and magazines in this region.”