Richard Li's paper fires a volley in whole new ball game

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2007, 12:00am


Related topics

A full-page, black-and-white advertisement on Monday, with a set of Soduku games at the centre, carried the headline: 'The results announcement is not a game!'

Was this a slogan for an investors' education campaign, or regulatory organisations warning investors to make a clear investment decision by going through targeted companies' results announcements?

Media Eye's initial reaction to the ad in Richard Li Tzar-kai's 50 per cent-owned Hong Kong Economic Journal was wrong on both counts.

The advertisement was the Chinese-language business newspaper's own opening shot in an effort to tap revenue from listed-company announcements.

'We want to build up our branding by leveraging on the Journal's ranking of newspaper credibility by Chinese University of Hong Kong, in which we are the most credible among all Chinese newspapers,' a company source told Media Eye.

The advertisement said advertisers needed a newspaper with credibility and professionalism to publish their results announcements.

'As March and April is the peak season for companies' announcements advertising, it is a suitable time for us to raise the awareness to our clients,' the source said.

The mandatory publishing of announcements of listed companies in newspapers is expected to end this year when notices will have to be published at least on the internet.

The Hong Kong Economic Journal and other publishers nevertheless believe companies would still prefer their announcements in print.

Claims such as 'it will have more impact if the notices are published in the Journal' are being used by the paper to fight its long-time rival, the Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times, for announcements.

'The Hong Kong Economic Times dominates the [Chinese-language] announcement advertising market but other newspapers such as the Journal should be the second choice for listed companies' notices,' an advertising firm's agent said.

Other publications could also reduce the Economic Times' market share. Potential competitors include Ming Pao Daily News, Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao, with the last two already the first choice for some Hong Kong-listed state-owned enterprises.

'This segment is in a fierce competition but the yield is quite good,' the source said.

The Hong Kong Economic Times in 2005 charged an annual contract fee of HK$168,500, about 50 per cent less than the South China Morning Post, for printing the results announcements of a company such as BOC Hong Kong (Holdings), according to information supplied by the Post to the stock exchange and printed on its website. Sing Tao News Corp told the stock exchange in a submission that the rate for publishing announcements had declined by double digits in the past few years.

ng gives football the boot

I-Cable chairman Stephen Ng Tin-hoi made light this week of the company's loss of English Premier League football rights to PCCW's Now TV after August.

Mr Ng, speaking after i-Cable reported a 69 per cent slump in full-year profit to HK$181 million, even claimed there was declining interest in England's top teams, perhaps due to too much football on the box.

'We found that our average rating on EPL matches featuring big teams this season was lower than in previous seasons; there may be a cannibalisation as there are many football matches on television every weekend,' he said. 'EPL or other European league football matches were not the highest-rating programmes on our platform last year, even for those matches of the big clubs.'

Soccer was not a 'must have' item on i-Cable's platform. 'The viewership for football matches on i-Cable's platform was not among the top four highest-rating programmes in past years.'

I-Cable is shifting its marketing focus from football to news and entertainment programmes.

Mr Ng is also looking to film production to diversify revenue. Sundream Motion Pictures, the company's film studio, will launch six to eight films this year. The studio is expected to record its first profit next year after starting operations last year.