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SPH launches free Chinese newspaper - Mar 09, 2006 (BT)

BackMar 09, 2006

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

SPH launches free Chinese newspaper

Paper will be available from Tuesday to Saturday, starting June 1.

By Oh Boon Ping
Mar 09, 2006
The Business Times

(SINGAPORE) Media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is launching a free Chinese morning newspaper - Singapore's first - on June 1.

The paper, to be available daily from Tuesday to Saturday, will be 'light, eye-pleasing and easy to read'. It will be distributed to MRT stations, offices, tertiary institutions and selected households and shopping centres. Its name will be unveiled when it is officially launched.

The contemporary, informative and entertaining paper will have a high degree of reader participation via news alerts, story and picture contributions as well as opinion pieces.

SPH chairman Tony Tan said the paper will complement the group's stable of highly regarded Chinese newspapers.

'Zaobao is a Chinese newspaper of considerable reputation and international recognition whilst SPH's two evening newspapers, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News, cater to the needs of a sizeable readership with interests in lifestyle and human-interest stories,' Dr Tan said.

'However, we recognise that the readers' tastes and needs evolve with changing lifestyle, trends and command of the language. Thus, to cater to our wide spectrum of readers, SPH aims to provide a full suite of Chinese newspaper products across different time-belts, with each offering a fulfilling reading experience and unique perspective on events happening around them, using language ideally suited for the audience,' Dr Tan added. He said the free paper would fill a gap for a quick and light read in the morning.

SPH said it will be written in 'contemporary, easy-to-read Chinese which even younger readers with a CL2 background will find interesting and absorbing'.

SPH chief executive Alan Chan said the group is ever conscious of the need to ensure that its readers' expectations are met, and will continually improve its newspapers - including Lianhe Zaobao - to meet these expectations.

'We will continuously develop Zaobao in ways that our readers want us to, but without compromising its in-depth and analytical coverage,' said Mr Chan.

He said the free paper is also in line with the group's continuing efforts to nurture local journalistic talent.

'To prepare for this newspaper, we will not just be hiring fresh talent, we will also be offering more places in the SPH Chinese Journalism Scholarship to meet our long term needs,' said Mr Chan.

To be led by editor Goh Sin Teck, 42, and associate editor Chua Chim Kang, 40, the free newspaper will have a team of journalists who are in their 20s and 30s.

Responding to press queries, SPH said the free paper will not require significant investments as SPH will be leveraging on its existing infrastructure and the resources of its current stable of newspapers.

'There will be operational expenses for newsprint and distribution, and some additional costs from hiring more journalists,' said SPH.

The launch is not expected to have a material impact on the earnings and net tangible assets per share of SPH for its current financial year ending Aug 31.