SCMP closing popular giveaway magazine amid falling revenue

August 11, 2015 13:32
SCMP launched 48 HOURS magazine (inset) two years ago amid an aggressive magazine expansion program. Photos: HKEJ, internet

SCMP Group Ltd. (00583.HK) is to close its popular giveaway magazine 48 HOURS as part of an editorial reorganisation amid falling advertising revenue.

In an e-mail to staff last week, editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei said the magazine will cease publication on Aug. 20.

The decision will allow the group to focus on other aspects of the newspaper in line with plans to accelerate the integration of its print and digital assets into a more efficient multi-media platform.

Wang did not give details of SCMP's advertising sales but mentioned poor revenue, a common concern among print publishers hit by faltering readership and deep cuts in advertising budgets by high-end retailers.

The closure of 48 HOURS comes after chief executive Robin Hu launched an aggressive magazine expansion in 2013.

Since then, SCMP has acquired HK Magazine and Destination Macau and spent more than HK$80 million (US$10.31 million) to buy a 70 percent stake in Elle Hong Kong.

The magazine business recorded turnover of HK$325 million last year, up 17 percent from the previous year, thanks to Esquire and the Peak, two new additions to its stable.

SCMP Group will report its interim results on Aug. 24.

SCMP launched 48 HOURS two years ago to compete with Time Out Hong Kong, a profitable bi-weekly magazine with 40,000 subscribers founded by former Post Magazine editor Desiree Au.

Published every Thursday, 48 HOURS offered weekend tips on entertainment, food, travel, art, music, fashion and leisure.

Wang once boasted that the team explored and experimented with new creative ideas, different writing styles and a broad diversity of topics in 48 hours.

“This experience will only strengthen us, as we continue to look out for opportunities to experiment with new products and concepts to test the market, with the ultimate goal of delivering the best to our readers,” he said in an internal memo.

There will be no redundancies as a result of the restructuring, he said.

Wang said SCMP Group remains deeply committed to investing in quality journalism after launching an international edition of its digital service and introducing a publishing system once used by the Washington Post.

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Chief reporter at EJ Insight