Nepal’s newspapers have a history of over a hundred years but the first private commercial daily newspaper began publishing in 1993. Since then, the circulation of newspapers has increased, contrarily to many developed countries where the publishing industry has experienced a slowdown in sales because of the emergence of Internet. Nepal’s digital media market is yet to be matured to have that kind of impact and due to growing literacy rate, infrastructural development making distribution of newspaper easy, and information hunger among citizens, newspapers should see a steady rise in sales for at least a few more years.
Since there is no reliable data from the publishers and the audit bureau of circulation is absent, it is hard to put circulation and sales in numbers. Nepal’s largest daily newspaper, Kantipur, claims a daily circulation of 360,000 copies, whereas its sister publication, the English-language daily The Kathmandu Post, claims a daily circulation of 82,000. Other media houses claim their circulation of Nepali-language dailies at up to 200,000 per day. Publishers often exaggerate their claimed circulation. The top circulating dailies are generally oriented towards the centre of the political spectrum, but no newspapers in Nepal publicly declare their political leaning.
According to an audience survey conducted by Sharecast Initiatives in 2017, only around 40 percent of the population read newspapers. Kantipur’s readership is more than half of it, whereas Annapurna Post, Gorkhapatra and Nagarik are behind by a huge margin taking between 4 percent and 7 percent of the readership.
In a 2013 article, Understanding Advertising and Public Relations: Effects on News Media, media researcher Ujjwal Prajapati wrote that the print media still are the biggest media sector in generating advertisements revenue, covering up to 47 percent of shares. In term of economic power, the most important media companies are: the Kantipur Media Group with 36 percent of all print advertising revenues; Asia-Pacific Communication Associates Nepal Pvt Ltd whose advertising data is not available, state-owned Gorkhapatra Corporation with 13 percent; and Nepal Republic Media with 10 percent print advertising share in 2011.
The print media published by each of these publication houses are outlined below:
- Kantipur Media Group: Kantipur (daily), The Kathmandu Post (English language daily), Nepal (weekly magazine), Saptahik (weekly tabloid) and Nari (monthly specialised magazine).
- Nepal Republic Media Private Limited: Nagarik (daily), Republica (English language daily), Sukhrabar (weekly tabloid) and Pariwar (monthly specialised magazine).
- Gorkhapatra Corporation: Gorkhapatra (weekly), The Rising Nepal (English language daily), Madupark, Muna and Yuvamanch (monthly specialised magazines).
- Nepal News Network (3NI) Private Limited: Annapurna Post (Nepali language daily), and Annapurna Express (English language weekly tabloid).
All of the above media houses, except state-owned Gorkhapatra Corporation, have cross-media ownership. Kantipur Media Group also owns a radio station, a popular television channel and a subsidiary, Kantipur Digital Corp, that has investment in technology companies and runs all digital news operation of the publication; Nepal Republic Media owns a radio station; whereas 3NI owns a radio station and a television channel.
According to the Press Council of Nepal, there are 3,865 registered newspapers across the country with 655 dailies, 30 bi-weeklies, 2,778 weeklies and 402 fortnightlies. Among them, 1,640 are registered in the Kathmandu Valley. But not all of those registered newspapers are published. The state cannot unregister any newspaper because of the law and the number keeps on increasing. Among the registered newspapers, less than one-fourth or 863 were published last year and only 607 off them were regularly published all issues.
In total, 189 newspapers are published every day in Nepal but only the top few mainstream Nepali- language newspapers published in the capital Kathmandu have agenda-setting strength. Those media usually have correspondents all over the country and are printed in multiple locations for easy and quick distribution in main cities. Recently, many of them have started publishing provincial editions but the editions are still managed by the newsrooms in Kathmandu. Many of the dailies are regional or local, not having the national-wide distribution, and are thus weak in their coverage, revenue and impact.
Compared to daily newspapers, weekly newspapers are highly political in their contents and mostly read by political activists for understanding their party’s stances and opinions. However, two weekly newsmagazines – Nepal and Himal, are commercial publications that are popular and are agenda setters. The most popular and highest circulated weeklies in Nepal are tabloids targeting young readers, with contents focusing on sex, gossip, entertainment and sports. These include Saptahik and Sukrabar, claimed circulation of both standing at around 200,000 copies per issue. There are no freesheets published in Nepal.