The publishing business of daily newspapers that has flourished under multiparty democracy has suddenly become an unhealthy competition. This is evident in the row between APCA which publishes The Himalayan Times (THT) and Kantipur Publications. The Nepal Media Society (NMS), made up of Nepali publishers, has given its full support to Kantipur publications. It has targeted THT for publishing a misleading article about Buddha being born in India, thus hurting the national sentiments of the Nepali people. But it seems the real issue is over the low price of THT and its sister publication Annapurna Post. It is undeniable that these two are the largest selling dailies. In terms of circulation, THT is regarded as the top selling English language daily newspaper due to it's price and has little to do with news, quality or design. Nepalis own less than five percent of APCA's share, which has been dogged by controversy even before THT was launched.
The Himalayan Times, initially sold at Rs 2, dropped to Rs 1 after The Kathmandu Post lowered its price from Rs 4 to Rs 1.50. The fight between these two publication houses has embroiled student unions and political parties. The issue has already become politicised, what with the public burning of THT and Annapurna Post. The Nepal Media Society justifies their actions, saying political parties were responsible for acting against 'anti-national' broadsheets. APCA, however, believes that Kantipur Publications is behind the entire exercise.
Meanwhile, Kantipur has complained that the government has not taken any legal action despite such a national protest against these two newspapers. Whatever the reason, this kind of unhealthy competition could destroy a newspaper industry that had just started flourishing in Nepal. It is natural to protest against a publishing house whose finances are not transparent. Readers want APCA to be clearer about its financial dealings and Kantipur Publications to compete in the market in a healthy manner.