Some SPH papers to cost more from Oct - Sep 28, 2008 (ST)

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The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Some SPH papers to cost more from Oct

First price revision in 23 years is due to rising newsprint prices.

Sep 28, 2008
The Straits Times

From Oct 1, your copy of The Straits Times and The Sunday Times will cost more because of rising production costs, including newsprint prices.

The subscription and newsstand prices of both The Straits Times and The Sunday Times, currently at 70 cents and 80 cents respectively, will increase by 10 cents for the Sunday to Friday editions, and by 20 cents for the bumper Saturday edition.

Mr Alan Chan, chief executive officer of publisher Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), said that this was only the third price revision in 23 years for its print products. The last adjustment was in 2004.

He said: 'We have tried to contain costs, but newspaper production expenses have gone up steeply; in particular, the US dollar price of newsprint has almost doubled since 2004.'

Newsprint price has gone from about US$450 per tonne in 2004 to nearly US$900 (S$1,285) today.

'The impact has been considerable, as evident in newspaper publishers around the world also increasing their cover prices, some as early as last year,' he said.

At least 30 newspapers around the world have increased their prices in the past year. They include Britain's Financial Times and The Guardian; the United States' Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Boston Globe; and Thailand's Bangkok Post.

Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang said the paper will work even harder to ensure it is a value-for-money read for its readers.

He said the paper has tried to do this over the years, adding new content such as three lifestyle magazines, improving its reporting on Asia with more overseas bureaus and constantly refreshing the look of the paper, as in the latest redesign last month.

The three magazines are Urban, Mind Your Body and Digital Life.

'I think our Saturday edition represents even better value, with more than 200 pages most weeks, containing many sections with in-depth reports, many of which are award-winning pieces,' he said.

Some other newspapers in the SPH stable will also see price increases from Oct 1. SPH will continue to absorb the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which it has done since its introduction in April 1994. This costs the group $13 million annually.

The Business Times, currently priced at 85 cents, will go up by 10 cents for subscription copies and by 15 cents for newsstand copies. Its last price revision was in February 1995.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao will be priced at 75 cents for subscribers and 80 cents at newsstands, up 5 cents for both categories.

Evening dailies Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily will be increased by 10 cents. They currently sell at 65 cents each for subscribers and 70 cents each at newsstands.

Malay daily Berita Harian will raise its price for only its Saturday edition, by 10 cents for both subscription and newsstand copies, up from the current 45 cents and 50 cents respectively. There will be no price adjustment for its Monday to Friday editions and its Sunday paper, Berita Minggu.

There will also be no price revision for The New Paper and Tamil Murasu, for both their weekday and Sunday editions.

SPH's bilingual product, mypaper, will continue to be distributed free. The group's array of new online products, such as, omy, Stomp, ST RazorTV and ST Breaking News, will also continue to be free.

Mr Chan said that SPH is committed to giving value for money for all its products, and continually strives to improve its newspapers with regular redesigns, content improvement and upgrading of its printing facilities. It has also launched many new products.

He added that even with the latest round of price increases, SPH's newspapers are still among the lowest priced compared to equivalent newspapers in the region and worldwide.