Richard Li

Journal seeks to boost spending in push for bigger market share

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2007, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Economic Journal, which doubled first-quarter display advertising revenue at the expense of rival Hong Kong Economic Times, will boost investment to take market share from quality newspapers such as the Economic Times and the Ming Pao Daily News, market sources told Media Eye last week.

The Journal last month took in its highest advertising income since a trust funded by PCCW chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai bought a 50 per cent stake in the Chinese-language financial newspaper in September. The rest is held by founder Lam Shan-muk and family.

The Journal is now exploring ways to maintain its growth momentum in revenue from corporate notices by starting a website on listed companies' data.

The paper was thinking of increasing its spending budget 'and some dailies such as Ming Pao will be the first to get hurt', a source said.

The new owners, who had already expanded the sales and editorial teams, were considering buying a new printer to replace the existing one, which limited the number of colour pages that could be published, another source said.

'When comparing it with other newspapers with big corporate support, we are only a small enterprise and we need to earn as much as we can during the peak season for advertising dollars,' the source said.

The Journal earned more last month, thanks to a recovery in the property market and an increasing client base of luxury brands, the source said.

Display advertising revenue doubled to HK$56.32 million in the first three months this year from a year earlier, according to media monitoring firm admanGo.

The advertising revenue was HK$28.55 million last month, up from HK$11.99 million in September, when Mr Li's offshore fund bought the stake.

During the period, advertising revenue at the Economic Times fell 5 per cent to HK$396 million.

The Journal broke the Economic Times' grip on the market by publishing the allotment announcements for initial public offerings by China Agri-Industries Holdings and Regal Real Estate Investment Trust.

The paper also benefited from the peak season for results announcements, notably by big companies such as PCCW.

It increased its print run last month, especially for the allotment day of China Agri, by 4,000 copies to test the market.

Market sources said the paper's daily circulation was 40,000 to 50,000 copies.

Journal staff said the paper would expand its editorial coverage to accommodate more advertising pages.

'We are also building an online platform with the help of the editorial team to offer an ultimate research database for all Hong Kong-listed firms,' a source said.

The idea of the website was being discussed internally and the firm was recruiting a web page designer.

'This should be totally another type of content, which will not include the newspaper content. It will be a paid service,' a source said.

Now TV raises sports tariff

PCCW's Now TV is raising the subcription fee for its sports channel package.

The operator, which in August starts its exclusive broadcasts of English Premier League football matches, now offers an average tariff of HK$129 for an 18-month contract. That includes five free months with a standard tariff of HK$178 for the rest of the period.

From tomorrow, only three free months will be included, raising the average monthly tariff to HK$148.

'We want new customers to join us as early as they can, so we launched the cheapest plan two months ago,' a source told Media Eye, referring to the package that will be superseded tomorrow.

The strategy of gradually raising the tariff is to avoid a bottleneck of service installations immediately before the EPL season.

Disco at Disneyland

Hong Kong Disneyland Resorts will partner Commercial Radio 2 to host '903 Disney Attack' on the night of April 22.

The event changes Disneyland from a theme park to an outdoor disco as it tries to attract young adults to spend a night of weekend fever.

'It is the first time Disneyland has held such a special event at night. We do want to attract more young adults to the park,' said Susan Chan, the director of publicity at the resort.

Tickets for the event cost HK$200 and there was space for 2,500 people, Ms Chan said.