Newspaper Apple Daily scraps its adult section

Newspaper's editor does not believe that many people are now reading the column

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2012, 3:24am

The Apple Daily newspaper is scrapping its adult section, a feature of the paper since it was founded in 1995, as readers go online for similar material.

A notice yesterday informed readers that the section, containing nightlife guides and reviews of pornography, would be discontinued after completing its "historical mission".

Yesterday's section ran to only two pages and contained just six small listings advertisements.

Apple Daily editor Cheung Kim-hung said the section's closure had nothing to do with the amount of advertising. He said management estimated that the section's removal would do little harm to its daily circulation of 230,000 copies.

"We think it is time to close it," Cheung said. "We believe there are not many people reading the section. Times have changed. People looking for similar content will go online."

Observers say the move is a sign of the times, with much of the entertainment business moving elsewhere.

Cultural critic Chip Tsao predicts other newspapers will also stop carrying adult content pages. Only the Oriental Daily, The Sun and the Hong Kong Daily News still do so. None of the newspapers would comment on whether they plan to follow suit.

Tsao said adult sections thrived in the 1960s and 70s, with almost all Chinese-language newspapers carrying such pages to attract lower-income readers.

"They lived in squatter areas and worked as labourers. They had little income and entertainment, so they read such content," he said.

To Yiu-ming, associate professor of journalism at Baptist University, said adult content catered only to a minority and newspapers were ultimately businesses. The closure of Apple Daily's adult section was due to the entertainment business' move to the mainland and Macau, To said.

Choi Chi-sum, general secretary of The Society of Truth and Light, a Christian concern group, welcomed the move, citing the harm that adult content poses to adolescents.

"I believe they did so not because of their guilty conscience but [out of] commercial consideration," Choi said.

Cheung said the contracts of the freelance journalists who produced the adult content section would be terminated.