Traditional mainland media are losing advertising share to other channels even as the country's advertising market is looking forward to Olympics-related marketing campaigns driving growth of more than 20 per cent this year, according to CTR Market Research. The company's survey, which monitored the advertising performance of all mainland mainstream media platforms last year, showed total adspend grew 18 per cent last year to 287.5 billion yuan. Television remained the dominant force with more than 76 per cent of the market. Newspapers ranked second with 16 per cent and magazines trailed in third with 2 per cent. Newspaper advertising revenue grew only 4 per cent in the period, the slowest gain among all media platforms. Adspend in the television sector rose 18 per cent. 'Newspapers have endured a cold winter for the past two years,' the researcher's vice-chairman Tian Tao said this week. 'This year will be a tough challenge also.' Newspapers are struggling to boost advertising revenue as their readership ages and in the face of competition from the internet media. 'Newspapers do not offer a clear position compared with other platforms,' Mr Tian said. 'Advertisers are shifting budgets to the internet for the younger generation or deploying more on direct marketing such as mailing leaflets or holding events to communicate with users.' About 21 per cent of advertising budgets was being devoted to new media such as the internet, the survey found. Services and property development advertisers raised their newspaper adspend 6 per cent last year, led by China Mobile, CTR said. The mainland's largest mobile operator devoted 1.4 billion yuan of its budget to newspapers, up 21 per cent from 2005, while electronics retailer Gome Group joined the other telecommunications operators - China Unicom, China Telecom and China Netcom - as the leading spenders in the sector. i-Cable means business I-Cable Communications' Cable TV, Hong Kong's largest pay-television service provider, plans to strengthen its business and finance news programmes by offering a 24-hour dedicated channel every Hong Kong share market trading day. Cable TV, which has more than 770,000 subscribers, expects to spend HK$10 million more this year and recruit about 30 staff for the relaunch of its business information channel in April. The company is making new investments after losing the English Premier League broadcast rights to PCCW's Now TV for the three seasons starting in August. Cable TV estimates it will save more than HK$100 million in EPL programming costs. 'We studied our business model for over three years after we won the EPL rights in 2004,' said Ronald Chiu, an executive director at Cable TV responsible for news and sports programmes. 'The bidding price was high and we started to review our programming strategy as we shouldn't rely too much on EPL programmes only.' Market rumours claim that Now TV offered more than US$200 million for the three-year Hong Kong exclusive rights to EPL games. Mr Chiu said that with such a cost base on top of production and satellite transmission costs, it was difficult to say whether Now TV would make a profit from the EPL franchise. Cable TV will boost investment in self-produced programmes to strengthen its non-sports output, such as entertainment and news. Part of that change would see the revamp of the news department's business news channel to provide full-day, business-related output on trading days, Mr Chiu said. 'We need to pour in more than HK$10 million to increase our production for the new channel, on top of current expenses of HK$200 million each year. We will cover more business and offer finance news to meet the recent hype in the stock market.' Cable TV launched the business news channel last year with a mix of finance news in the day time and current affairs programmes at night to compete with Now TV's business news channel, which made its debut in March last year. 'We will extend our finance-related programmes at night by adding two programmes on market gossip and with insight from various institutional investors or research reports,' Mr Chiu said. He said that despite the high production costs, news was now a profitable business under the i-Cable umbrella. 'We have our branding effect and are one of the top-rated programmes among all pay-television channels. This helps generate more advertising revenue and sponsorship,' he said.