Sat, Mar 23, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Money woes force KMT to merge two of its newspapers

By Tsai Ting-i  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Central Daily News, a 75-year-old newspaper wholly owned by the KMT, plans to merge with at least one other newspaper owned by the party in a move that will likely involve lay-offs, the paper said yesterday.

Shaw Yu-ming (邵玉銘), chairman of the paper, said yesterday that the Central Daily News will merge with the China Daily News by the end of next month.

Taiwan Shinsheng Daily News was also mentioned as a merger candidate yesterday, but few details were given.

"Because of the KMT's financial problems, the size of the organization at Central Daily News must be simplified and restructured," Shaw said.

Taiwan Shinsheng Daily denied yesterday that it would be a part of any tie-up, although a statement the paper released yesterday didn't refer to any other forms of "cooperation."

Shaw said the merger "is mainly between the Central Daily News and China Daily News."

"I don't know to what extent the Central Daily News is going to cooperate with Taiwan Shin-sheng Daily," Shaw said.

The KMT owns 66 percent of the China Daily News, which in turn owns a minority stake in the Taiwan Shinsheng Daily.

Taiwan Shinsheng Daily, in its statement, said it "has been an independent private enterprise since it was privatized last year," and there were no plans to merge with any other paper.

Shaw said he wasn't sure how many lay-offs there would be, but said the cuts would be made before the end of next month.

Reporters at Central Daily News have expressed worries that the paper's entire staff of 320 employees might be dismissed and replaced with 70 to 80 new hires. Another scenario is that 70 to 80 current employees would be kept and the remainder fired.

"A news-section chief told my colleagues about the newspaper's decision to lay off staff [on Thursday night], after there was a meeting with senior managers," a reporter, who declined to be identified, told the Taipei Times yesterday.

"I'm upset about how the newspaper has handled this, especially because they've never made any of their decisions public."

KMT officials confirmed that Central Daily News will merge with China Daily News. "The KMT can no longer afford to fund two newspapers," party spokesman Chou Shou-hsun said.

Shaw said the three newspapers will keep publishing and share the editorial and administrative resources.

The Central News Daily, founded in Shanghai in 1928, moved to Taiwan in 1949 after the KMT lost China to the communists. The newspaper claims a circulation of 350,000, although there is no independent agency to audit circulation figures in Taiwan.

The paper's circulation peaked in the 1960s at an estimated 500,000 before the China Times and United Daily News joined the market. Its circulation started declining as the media market grew to more than 100 newspapers in 1988.

Cheng Tzu-leong (鄭自隆), a marketing professor at National Chengchi University, said he doubted the Central News Daily could survive despite the plan-ned restructuring.

"Because the newspaper's ideas are out of date, it won't be able to survive after its reforms," Cheng said.

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