The People Daily management has stopped publication of the weekend edition, which has been circulating on Saturday. PD Wikendi is the latest causality of reforms being implemented at Mediamax Network Ltd, which owns the newspaper, to streamline operations and reduce costs.
PD Wikendi was launched in December 2016 as an entertainment paper a year after weekend editions were scrapped as part of a restructuring that saw it retrench over 50 staff members including some of its top journalists. The last print edition came out on Saturday June 9th.
In the latest move, the weekend edition will be published online as a digital paper, leaving People Daily as a work-week newspaper. The reforms are being championed by newly appointed Editor in Chief Peter Opondo.
As a free sheet newspaper, it is understood PD Wikendi has been facing circulation challenges on Saturday, being a non-working day for most organisations in Kenya, including government. Its distributors would record huge returns or were often forced to distribute the paper to anyone in sight, at times giving out two or more newspapers to one person.
Due to this circulation limitations, the weekend edition incidentally struggled to attract advertisers or sponsors, including big weekend advertisers in the sports betting industry, such as SportPesa, Betway and Betin, among others.
Its main readership has been the middle-class with cars with the main distribution points being near roundabouts where vehicle traffic slows or drops. Walkers and those using public were often frowned upon, with PSV vehicles just getting a copy.
The newspaper had its own team of writers and editors, led by Matilda Nzioki, whose fate remains unclear, though insiders say a good number would be redeployed to the main paper after streamlining staffing issues.
Weekend publishing remains a hard nut to crack for new entrants in the market. It is dominated by market leaders Nation Media Group and The Standard, which record highest sales on Saturday and Sunday. Weekend is largely political segment and PD entertainment positioning failed to resonate with readers.
The Star newspaper has toyed with weekend publishing but has yet to find a strong footing. At some point, it stopped the weekend edition and later returned after it went big on politics.