Acute shortage of newsprint in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 09:51 GMT]
International Independent Journalist Organization and Sri Lanka Organization for Freedom of Expression in Jaffna have sent letters to the Ambassadors of donor countries and International media agencies, informing the severe shortage of news print and ink in the Jaffna peninsula. The shortage has forced the publishers of Tamil dailies to reduce the number of pages and the number of copies published, the publishers said.

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) closure of the A9 route in August 2006 and the reluctance of the Commissioner of Essential Services to ship these printing material, have been the causes of the current acute shortage of news print and ink, the newspaper publishers in the peninsula said.

The Tamil dailies Uthayan, Yarl Thinakural and Valampuri are the only sources of news and information to the public in the absence of radio or television stations in Jaffna peninsula.

The Uthayan which enjoys the highest circulation has reduced its number of copies from 22,000 to 7,500, curtailing the number of pages from 16 to 4 due to the dwindling stock of news print and ink in the peninsula, its publishers said.

Soon Uthayan will be forced to run only 2 pages as the stock of newsprint in hand is not enough and before long the paper may be forced to shut down, the administrative staff at Uthayan said.

Dailies Yarl Thinakural and Valmpuri too face similar bleak future.

People eager to read news papers and unable to buy a copy, flock in front of tea stalls and shops where a single copy of the daily paper is kept for public view.

Civil activists say the shortage is deliberately introduced by the Sri Lanka government as part of its campaign to deny Jaffna residents free access information from independent sources. This is a serious form of curtailing media freedom, the activists say.


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