New Chinese-language daily looking to challenge rival's market dominance Sing Tao News Corp plans to launch a free daily newspaper within the next two months, heating up Hong Kong's already fiercely competitive print media market. Sing Tao's entrant will be the city's third free Chinese-language newspaper, joining the highly successful Metro and a second being prepared for launch in the fourth quarter by Shih Wing-ching, chairman of the Centaline Group property agency. Mr Shih is scheduled to brief the media on his new publication's title and progress today. 'Sing Tao is finalising its plans for the free daily and will soon give a presentation to advertising agencies on its positioning as well as rate card,' an industry source said. Sing Tao's new publication appears modelled on more than just Metro's advertising-only revenue model. Like Metro, which uses agency copy and is printed by Apple Daily's press, Sing Tao's paper will source content externally from its sister Sing Tao Daily and will be printed by Wen Wei Po. A maximum print run of 100,000 copies is planned. In addition to Sing Tao Daily, Sing Tao also publishes The Standard newspaper and Chinese weeklies Eastweek and East Touch. Established in April 2002, Metro has a daily circulation of more than 300,000 copies and a readership of 717,000. Distributed at MTR stations and profitable after only two years of operations, Metro has been the biggest thing to hit Hong Kong's Chinese newspaper market since Jimmy Lai Chee-ying launched the Apple Daily 10 years ago. According to data from MindShare, for the first five months of this year Metro's advertising revenues rose 25 per cent to $257 million, ranking it sixth. 'Metro's advertising rates stood firm ... while mass papers Apple Daily and Oriental Daily News always provide special discounts to their clients,' said a media agent. 'The two mass papers are feeling the threat from Metro.' A media analyst at a brokerage added: 'Some of the second-tier newspapers such as Sing Pao and Hong Kong Daily News will suffer once the two new free dailies enter the market, as their readership profile overlaps with Metro's.' Mr Shih said that while Sing Tao's entry into the free daily segment will dilute the advertising revenues he had expected for his publication, which will also be printed by the Apple Daily's press, he still expects to achieve profitability. 'In the long term our circulation will increase from 100,000 to over 200,000,' he predicted.