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CAPMAS: Egypt’s print media continues to decline

There has been a significant decline in the sales and circulation of Egypt’s print media publications, according to the latest figures from the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

The variety of print newspapers and magazines in Egypt dropped from 80 in 2014 to 75 the following year, CAPMAS stated in a press release this week.

The aggregate distribution of such publications, which was at approximately 655 million copies in 2014, dropped to 560.7 million in 2015, CAPMAS added, while the number of publications issued by political parties dropped from eight in 2014 to three in 2015.

CAPMAS attributed this decline to a lack of professional practice and journalistic engagement over the past year, but others have offered alternative explanations.

“This is natural and is a continuation of the problems witnessed in the media landscape, in which many journalistic institutions have stood behind the ruling political regime,” private publisher, media entrepreneur and journalist Hesham Kassem told Mada Masr.

“The regime perceives the media as a tool for moral support, with its primary role being to prop up the country’s leader. The state has also adopted the viewpoint of the media and accordingly purchases and distributes publications among its authorities,” Kassem, who founded Al-Masry Al-Youm added.

However, there is a general decline in print media, both in Egypt and globally. State-owned print publications, such as October magazine, which had a circulation of 480,000 copies per issue in its heyday, would consider the distribution of 200 copies to be a good number today, according to Kassem, who explained that the distribution of magazines such as the state-run Rose al-Youssef and Al-Mossawer do not currently exceed 1,000 copies.

Total revenues from the state-owned flagship Al-Ahram newspaper, which Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized to serve as a mouthpiece for his government, are estimated at between LE700 to LE800 million, which the state tops up to the tune of LE1 billion, Kassem said.

According to CAPMAS, the number of broadcasting hours for Egypt’s audio-visual media outlets remained relatively static throughout 2014 and 2015, with radio stations broadcasting 166,353 hours of content and television and satellite channels broadcasting approximately 184,789 hours.

Most global news outlets have online publications, or subscription-based services. Consequently, many journalists in Egypt are acting as publishers or moving into other forms of media.

“We are living in an age in which readership is measured by Alexa Internet — the commercial web traffic data and analytics company. What governs the market now is not economic feasibility, but online traffic,” according to Kassem, who added, “I begin my day with an email that includes everything that was published in the press, so why would I go back to the past and leave my house in order to buy the print version?”