NewsEast & Horn AfricaKenya: Nation Media deepens print media investment


Posted on Wednesday, 25 November 2015 07:36

Kenya: Nation Media deepens print media investment

By Duncan Miriri

File photo©ReutersKenya's Nation Media Group, the biggest newspaper publisher in East Africa, is testing a new press to meet rising demand for its titles on a continent where print media is still growing, its chief executive said.

Unlike more developed parts of the world, where news consumers have been moving online, sales of printed newspapers are still growing in Kenya and the region, mainly due to shaky Internet infrastructure that curbs access to the web.

It is still a solid business. People are still buying newspapers

Many Kenyans and other Africans still rely on basic mobile phones that do not support apps to read news on the move. Nation Media CEO Joe Muganda, appointed in July, told Reuters that its publications, including the Daily Nation in Kenya and The East African regional weekly, still account for more than 80 percent of group revenue.

"It is still a solid business. People are still buying newspapers," he said in his Nairobi office. By comparison, Nation Media's digital business, which includes several websites, was gaining traffic but accounted for less than 5 percent of revenue, reflecting the challenge of turning digital audiences into revenue streams.

The company's new 2 billion shilling ($19.60 million) printing press, to be commissioned early next month, will improve the quality of Nation Media's newspapers by offering better resolution and other benefits, Muganda said. "We wouldn't do that if we had any doubts about our newspaper business," he said, citing 5 percent annual growth in the circulation of its weekend Kenyan title, Saturday Nation.

The company, which posted a pretax profit of 1.43 billion shillings for the first six months of this year, expects its business in Tanzania, where it publishes a daily, to be buoyed this year by advertisements during campaigns for presidential and parliamentary election in October, Muganda said.

Nation, which also runs television and radio stations, was recovering losses from shutting down its Kenyan TV stations for several weeks in February. Four Kenyan TV stations, including two belonging to Nation Media, went off air for 19 days after the government switched off analogue signals, leading to advertising losses.

"The second half will be better than the first half," Muganda said. Muganda said that Nation, which is controlled by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, will focus on consolidating its existing businesses next year and developing new content. "We are going to live or die by our content," he said.

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