Merger creates Chinese media powerhouse

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am

Behind the merger of Ming Pao Enterprise Corp with Malaysian-based companies Sin Chew Media and Nanyang Press lies owner Tiong Hiew King's ambition to challenge the dominance of western media in the global news industry.

The HK$3.5 billion merger deal announced by Ming Pao on Monday would make the enlarged group one of the Chinese media world's biggest. Multimedia is the next step.

'The rapid redevelopment of information technology and globalisation changed the way Chinese people receive information around the world ... the new platform will create the largest and strongest global Chinese-language multimedia platform, which will directly compete with other international media corporations,' Mr Tiong said.

Shares of Ming Pao rose 7.18 per cent and closed at HK$2.09 yesterday on news of the deal, scheduled to be completed this year.

'Mr Tiong is dedicated to building a global Chinese media platform, and he loves to be a newspaper boss,' a source said.

The new entity will combine five newspapers based in Hong Kong and Malaysia with daily circulation of more than one million copies in Asia and North America.

'As we have a strong team in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, it is possible for us to sell our content through channels such as news wires,' the source said. The firm would also have more bargaining power in securing news sources.

Ming Pao is published in Hong Kong and North America in five daily editions. The newspaper business in North America made a loss of HK$7.1 million for the six months to September last year.

Ming Pao competes for overseas Chinese readers with Sing Tao News Corp, which sells in more than 100 cities worldwide.

Journalism in the balance

With the rise of Asian economies and living standards, the region's leaders want to balance the dominance of western media in reporting issues in the area. However, what we should respect should be the independence of journalism, which in turn wins readership support and helps to boost profits.

At the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan last weekend, Media Eye took part in a session about Asian harmony and the role of the media in the region.

Regional media sources are willing to build their influence to compete with the west by investing more in the region.

State-owned Xinhua offers one challenge to that western dominance. The agency, the worldwide voice of the central government, has boosted its budget to cover Asian news in the past few years, according to Liu Gang, the company's deputy chief.

The agency launched Asian language services in 2004 to better serve the region's 1,500 media subscribers.

'We should create better co-operation on reporting Asia news,' Mr Liu said at the forum.

In 1999, the Asian News Network was formed. As a coalition of 14 English and Chinese-language dailies and magazines from China, India and Malaysia, it aims to help the firms to have a better platform for resources integration.

English-language China Daily, Sin Chew Daily, a Chinese-language paper in Malaysia, the Statesman in India and the Korea Herald of South Korea are members.

'We need a local Asian perspective for Asian people,' said Ravindra Kumar, the editor and managing director of the Statesman. 'The western perception distorts the media as they have a clear western agenda and it may be colonialism.'

However, another editor said journalism should depend on the independent reporting of news organisations, not regional factors.

'Readers are choosing their media in relation to their credibility rather than which parties they represented or came from,' said Financial Times Asia editor Victor Mallet. 'It would be better to give the Asia press more freedom to produce good quality and influential products. Media responsibility does not contradict press freedom.'