Three Chinese-language newspapers raise prices, more to follow suit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 6:16am

Three local Chinese-language newspapers put their prices up yesterday, and eight more are expected to follow suit.

But vendors and analysts say the higher prices will have little impact on circulation.

The three broadsheets - Apple Daily, Oriental Daily News and The Sun - all increased their prices from HK$6 to HK$7 yesterday.

Of the city's 12 Chinese-language broadsheets, only one - the Hong Kong Economic Journal - has raised its cover price since 2000. It went from HK$6 to HK$8 in September.

In 2000, all 12 of the newspapers increased their prices from HK$5 to HK$6.

Newspaper Hawker Association chairman Fan Kwong-shun said the HK$1 rise should be acceptable to most readers as it had been so long since the last price rise. "You can't even buy tofu with HK$1 these days," he said.

Five other newspapers have notified the association of a price increase from April 10. The other three broadsheets also plan to raise their prices but have yet to confirm the details.

Although many people now read free newspapers in print and online formats, the higher cover prices were not expected to affect circulation figures as the print papers still offered something different, Fan said.

That was certainly the case at Fan's newsstand in Mong Kok, where he said all three newspapers sold out yesterday - despite the higher price.

At a newsstand in Wan Chai yesterday, Wong Ying-kan was not bothered by the extra HK$1 it cost him to buy the Oriental Daily News. "It's all right. It's been so long since the last increase," he said, adding that in recent years he had been buying newspapers less frequently because he reads them online instead.

To Yiu-ming, an assistant professor of journalism at Baptist University, said newspapers had been trying to avoid raising their prices so as to keep readers, as more turned to the internet for their news. "Given their rising costs, these newspapers should really have put up their prices much earlier," he said.

The impact of the price rise on sales of the papers' print editions would be minimal in the short term, he said. Competition from online news sources would be the more significant factor affecting circulation, To said.

But sales of the papers' print editions were still their major income source, he said.