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Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News to merge

Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News to merge

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Singapore Press Holdings Media Trust is merging two Chinese evening dailies Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News from 26 December, with its last edition on 24 December 2021; SPH Media Trust chairman Khaw Boon Wan said in an interview with the Trust's Chinese Media Group (CMG), The Straits Times reported. CMG consists of Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News. Under the merger, Wanbao's resources and part of its content will be transferred to Shin Min, ST said. Wanbao has been in circulation for the last 38 years, while Shin Min is in its 54th year.

Khaw said the merger comes as demand for instant access to news increased over the years due to digitalisation, citing that most regional evening papers have folded as well. He added that the merger will also align with the Trust's efforts to help more elderly readers pick up digital ways of reading the news, ST reported.

A two-pronged approach has been mapped out to tackle the financial and resource pressures the Trust faces. According to ST, CMG would consolidate its resources and deliver only one evening paper. At the same time, it will help seniors learn and get used to using tablets and other technology to read the papers. This is to ensure that they will not get left behind in CMG's move towards digitalisation.

Meanwhile, CMG head Lee Huay Leng said it considered two areas when making the decision for the merger. First was the limited supply of local talent working in Chinese media and next was the shrinking market for hardcopy papers while both evening papers had increasingly overlapping content.

The Trust is also eyeing younger readers for its Chinese content. According to ST, Khaw said it plans to make content produced by CMG more suitable to younger readers, using digital technology to disseminate good content to readers and listeners. He also plans to recruit and retain talent to bolster operations while ensuring salaries are market competitive. The Trust will also strengthen the skills of its journalists, ST said.

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According to Khaw, newspapers have to remain in tune with readers' digital habits. Citing TikTok and its rising popularity as an example, Khaw said Chinese papers need to establish their presence in this new channel to increase influence and dissemination, as failure to keep pace with netizens' digital habits will mean a continuing decline in relevance, ST said. He also stressed the importance of investing in technology, hardware and software, as well as digital skills to continue creating "first-class digital products" that will attract and retain the digital audience. Otherwise, Khaw said even the best content from the best newsrooms will fail to reach the intended audience, ST said. 

Aside from titles under CMG, SPH Media Trust also has other news titles under its purview including ST, The Business TimesBerita Harian and Tamil Murasu. Earlier this month, The New Paper also reported that it will cease its print edition and go fully digital from 11 December as part of the Trust's aim to accelerate the digital transformation of newsrooms and to meet audience preferences in a rapidly-changing media landscape. According to Khaw, he is also pushing the newsrooms to double down on and grow digital subscriptions and plans to consolidate resources "in favour of digital media" and bring on board more talent, The Sunday Times reported. 

Khaw was named chairman of the new entity shortly after the media restructuring was announced earlier this year. Former deputy CEO and editor-in-chief, Patrick Daniel, was also appointed as interim CEO of the trust. SPH said in May this year that it is transferring its media business to a newly incorporated wholly-owned subsidiary, SPH Media Holdings, amidst the ongoing challenge of falling advertising revenue. SPH Media Holdings will eventually be transferred to a not-for-profit entity for a nominal sum, and the not-for-profit entity will be a newly formed public company limited by guarantee (CLG).

On 10 September, majority of shareholders voted in favour of SPH transferring its media business to the CLG for a nominal sum of SG$1. This came shortly after Keppel Corporation proposed to acquire and privatise SPH excluding its media arm in August. Upon successful completion, SPH will eventually be delisted and become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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Related articles:
The New Paper goes fully digital amidst plans to accelerate newsroom transformation
SPH to potentially delist following proposed SG$3.4bn acquisition, Keppel in bid
Former SPH deputy CEO Patrick Daniel named interim chief of SPH Media
SPH shifts media business to not-for-profit entity amidst falling ad revenue
SPH undergoes strategic review following recent revenue dip in media biz


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