Newspaper The Nation will stop its print editions and go fully online from July 1, when the independent English-language daily turns 48, to focus more on its core online readers including those based abroad, the top executive of the company that owns the paper said last week.

Nation Multimedia Group Plc (NMG) CEO Somchai Meesen said the decision by the management was aimed at halting the Nation’s financial losses, in addition to expanding its market.

“Over the past five years, the Nation has lost 30 million baht [$942,000] a year on average,” he said.

The CEO, citing a survey, pointed out that only 36 per cent of the Nation’s readers are based in Thailand while the remaining 64 per cent live overseas, including 25 per cent in the US.

He said that meant most of the newspaper’s readers did not buy its paper editions, and they read its reports and articles from the website and through different digital platforms.

Typical readers of the Nation are aged between 25 and 40, and mostly prefer to read news from smartphones rather than a printed newspaper, he told Nation TV.

Somchai said as the market for new media was growing, old media businesses like newspapers were fast declining. This could be seen in the continuing decrease in the advertising budgets for publications – down 20 per cent a year on average, compared to an annual 20 per cent growth for new media.

“The new management has considered this matter carefully and decided that the Nation newspaper has to change its platform from print media to online, in order to better cater to the target group,” he said.

The CEO said the Nation’s online edition would also provide an audible version. He also unveiled plans for a Mandarin version from October “because at present more than 10 million Chinese visit and invest in Thailand”.

He assured there would be no retrenchments due to the change in platform.

“The editorial staff and employees of the Nation will continue with their work. There will only be a shift in focus from print to online,” he said.

Somchai blamed NMG’s previous management for its cumulative debt of 1.57 billion baht, which he said “almost bankrupted the Nation Group”.

The CEO said the previous management had made a serious blunder in bidding for the Channel 26 digital TV licence at a cost of 2.2 billion baht.

“In the fifth decade of operations, Nation Group will focus on our core business – providing news content,” he said. THE NATION (THAILAND)/ANN