Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 2 News List

KMT cuts its losses by shuttering the `Central Daily News'

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

The Central Daily News, the nation's oldest newspaper, announced yesterday that due to financial losses it would close its doors today after 78 years in business.

In its final issue, the newspaper said its 70 staff would stay on for one or two months while the company looks for a buyer.

"We are closing temporarily and hope to re-open soon. Please wait," the paper said in an announcement on its front page.

The newspaper is owned by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The KMT, once one of the world's richest political parties with assets estimated at US$6.5 billion in the 1990s, has already sold its gleaming 12-story headquarters in central Taipei and will move into a modest building this month to try to shake off its corrupt image.

The party is no longer willing to absorb the Central Daily News' snowballing losses, which totaled NT$800 million (US$25 million) as of April, and has so far failed to find a buyer for the newspaper.

The KMT has been in the decline since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) won the 2000 elections, ending more than five decades of Nationalist rule in Taiwan. Chen won re-election in 2004.

But an insider trading scandal implicating Chen's son-in-law has been a godsend for the KMT, which has also sold its television and radio stations and a film company in recent years to fund elections.

"[The party] can survive only if it is pragmatic ... My heart is heavy and I hate to part with it," KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said of the newspaper.

The Central Daily News was launched in Shanghai in 1928 as the mouthpiece of the KMT, and moved to Taiwan in 1949 after the KMT lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists.

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