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Alibaba completes SCMP acquisition, tears down digital paywall

And the wall came crumblin’ down.

As hinted in today’s edition of the South China Morning Post, the scmp.com is now free, completing Alibaba’s acquisition of the 113 year-old South China Morning Post and its associated media assets.

“[With the paywall taken down today] our focus now should not be on finding the right media business model. Our priority should be on how we should change to better adapt to the reading habits of our readers,” Alibaba group executive chairman Jack Ma told the SCMP.com.

“This is what we need to do as the media industry transforms for the future.”

Tammy Tam, the recently installed editor-in-chief, said the removal paves the way for the SCMP to grow its readership globally.

“It is our firm belief that as China plays an increasingly critical role in world politics and the economy, a global community of China stakeholders will demand insightful and trusted news and commentaries from a within-the-region perspective.”

Concurrent to the paywall removal, a new SCMP mobile app has been launched to offer search, faster loading time, deep linking from social media and easy navigation.

The Alibaba acquisition, confirmed in December last year received approval from the SCMP group’s shareholders at a special meeting on 14 March.

READ MORE: Alibaba to buy media arm of SCMP Group for HK$2bn

The deal encompasses the SCMP Group’s current media assets including the South China Morning Post, the Sunday Morning Post, its various digital platforms along with the group’s magazine portfolio, recruitment, outdoor media, events and conferences and education businesses.

While content on SCMP’s digital platforms is free to read, the SCMP newspaper as well as the ePaper version, a PDF replica of the SCMP newspaper, will continue to be subscription-based.

Robin Hu, CEO of the South China Morning Post Publishers, added that Alibaba Group’s vision and technological prowess offers an assuring roadmap for SCMP’s passage into the digital realm with “enhanced clarity and boosted confidence.”

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