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Next Digital

Next Digital’s Eat and Travel Weekly magazine ends print run after 20 years, goes digital-only

Last edition will be on August 3, though content will continue to be produced for website and mobile app

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 2:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 10:59pm

The restructuring of loss-making media giant Next Digital Limited continued on Thursday as the company announced that its long-running Eat and Travel Weekly magazine would end its print run next week.

After 20 years on news stands, the weekly publication specialising in food and travel will bid farewell to readers on August 3, when its 1,430th and final edition is published. Content will continue to be produced for its website and dedicated mobile app.

The news comes just one week after a HK$500 million offer was accepted by the company, owned by media mogul Jimmy Lai Chi-ying, for the sale of a bundle of magazines to businessman Kenny Wee Ho. Eat and Travel Weekly was not included in the deal.

Group CEO Cassian Cheung Ka-sing was then quoted by Next Media Trade Union as saying that the firm would study the future positioning of the magazine, adding that he believed it could still be profitable.

The group’s trade union expressed anger at the latest move, and demanded an explanation.

Just before 11am on Thursday, a statement was issued on the magazine’s Facebook page confirming that it was going digital.

“Owing to the decline of print media, it is with regret that we are announcing the end of our print edition … although the room for survival in print media is shrinking, we will carry on with our professional spirit and continue to shine on the digital platform,” it said.

“Lastly, we would like to express gratitude to our readers for their support over the past 20 years.”

But the union urged management to address “problems of mismanagement”.

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It called for all the magazine’s 50-plus workers to be transferred to the digital department or other internal positions.

Published every Thursday, the magazine was popular among Hongkongers looking for restaurant reviews and travel tips.

It had long been sold in a bundle with other publications, starting with gossip magazine Sudden Weekly in 2002.

After Sudden Weekly ceased operation in August 2015, Eat and Travel Weekly was consolidated into the Next Magazine bundle, currently sold at HK$20.

“Under depressed market conditions, the advertising revenue of the Next Magazine bundle for the year under review was HK$57.8 million,” the company’s 2016/17 annual report stated.

The move is widely believed to be part of cost-cutting measures by Next Digital, which reported a loss of HK$394 million in the last fiscal year, including HK$161 million from its books and magazines publication and printing division.

Revenue dropped for the fifth year in a row to HK$1.78 billion in the fiscal year ending March, less than half of the HK$3.63 billion recorded for the 2011/12 financial year.