Despite the popularity of print media in Qatar relative to the rest of the developed world, the audience for foreign publications is rapidly drying up, the Peninsula reports.
Once hugely successful because of Qatar’s large expat presence (some 85 percent of the population), foreign newspapers have seen a 60 to 70 percent drop in circulation here.
That’s according to the Arabian Establishment for Commerce, which is the largest distributor of western publications in Qatar and whose titles include the New York Times, USA Today and Daily Mail.
The Internet plays a huge role in the decline, which has prompted the discontinuation of the Guardian and several Indian newspapers, but so do conditions unique to Qatar, the Peninsula asserts.
The waiting period for foreign newspapers here is a major factor, for example.
Before reaching customers, these papers must get clearance from the Ministry of Culture, which checks for objectionable content like anything obscene or blasphemous – though agents say they are “rarely” asked to remove anything.
The Peninsula reports:
The delay varies from country to country. While newspapers from India are generally available by the afternoon, British newspapers are circulated here the next day.
“We distribute The New York Times on the third day and British dailies are available the next day,” adds Santosh (Mathew, distribution manager of AEC). By the time the paper reaches the hands of the reader, it’s only worth the paper it’s printed on.
Meanwhile, the global costs of distribution have also soared, causing the price of the Sunday copy of the New York Times, for example, to jump to QR111.
Even Gulf newspapers have been affected – the Khaleej Times is no longer carried here because freight charges are too high, distributors told the Peninsula.
While magazines remain popular in Qatar, there is fear that they will be the next to suffer a decline, the paper states.
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