Printing and advertising firms profit from Legco election campaigns

Owners of advertising space and printers profit from the millions spent by candidates to boost campaigns

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 3:27pm

The Legislative Council election may be weeks away, but there's already one clear winner from the contest - the city's advertising and printing industries.

Companies have seen business surge amid intense competition between candidates seeking seats in the expanded council, not least those fighting for the five new "super seats", which will be elected by a city-wide ballot for which 3.2 million voters are eligible.

"More candidates came early to get their orders secured," New Century Printing owner Walter Wong Tung-wong said. "One super-seat candidate made an order of more than three million copies of their promotional pamphlets."

At 20 to 30 cents per copy, such an order could generate almost HK$1 million for his company, Wong said.

Two individuals and five slates of candidates are jockeying for the five super seats in the functional constituency for district councils, while formally known as the district council (second) functional constituency, while 21 individuals and 46 slates of candidates are contesting the 35 seats in five geographical constituencies, significantly up on the 55 lists that contested 30 seats four years ago. Polling day is September 9.

The expansion of Legco and the creation of the super seats, in which all those without a vote in any other functional constituency will be able to cast ballots, are the result of electoral reforms passed in 2010.

The two individuals and five slates running for the super seats are each allowed to spend up to HK$6 million on their campaign, while limits in the geographical seats range from HK$1.6 million to HK$2.6 million, depending on the population of the constituency. The limits for geographical constituencies are similar to those for the last Legco poll.

One Civic Party campaigner said costs had increased since the last election. "We had to make our order early and leave more time for the printing process because there are more candidates grabbing the printers," said the campaigner. "Some printers were asked to work for a single political party."

Advertising on the city's taxis was also proving more expensive.

"In 2008 each taxi ad cost about HK$300 per month but it has doubled to HK$600 this year," the campaigner said.

Lai Ming-hung, of the Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group, said taxi advertising was more popular with candidates than minibus promotions. "But the drivers will not benefit as the revenue all goes to the taxi owners."

A Liberal Party campaigner said the party's spending went mainly on publishing promotional materials and advertisements, but some of the party candidates had bought advertising space on some 200 taxis.