TOKYO (AFP) — Three of Japan's leading newspapers said Monday they would cooperate in their online productions and distribution, joining hands to maintain clout in an industry under threat from the Internet.
The tie-up involves The Yomiuri Shimbun, which is considered the world's top-selling newspaper, along with its liberal arch-rival The Asahi Shimbun and the Nikkei business daily.
The three newspapers will set up a new website with their articles posted next to one another, partly in an attempt to lure younger readers to subscribe to their print editions.
"We want to increase the influence of newspapers in the world of the Internet," Asahi Shimbun Co. president Kotaro Akiyama told a news conference.
Nikkei Inc. president Ryoki Sugita said that most news now found online came originally from newspaper journalists.
"The largest purpose is to help readers realise the role of newspapers seen in the Internet media," he said of the alliance.
"Through the new project, we hope Internet readers will also read newspapers," said Sugita, whose newspaper sells three million copies each morning.
The three media giants will also cooperate in distribution in regional areas, especially the Yomiuri and Asahi dailies which respectively sell over 10 million and eight million morning copies each day.
The alliance came as the newspaper industry faces difficulties in maintaining Japan's extensive home delivery system, particularly in remote areas where the population is dwindling.
Japan is one of the few developed nations where newspaper circulation is not going down, a trend often attributed to home delivery which has long secured loyal readership.
"Japanese newspapers have maintained credibility partly because the papers are sure to be delivered to homes through the distribution system," said Hitoshi Uchiyama, president of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, which publishes the centre-right daily.
"One of the purposes of the partnership is to keep the system in mountainous, remote areas," Uchiyama said.
The companies also plan to share printing factories and distribution networks in cases of disasters.
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