SPH sees 8.2% dip in revenue, looks to 'rejuvenate, reinvent and reposition'

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has garnered SG$1,032.5 million in group operating revenue for the financial year ended 11 October 2017, a 8.2% dip as compared to SG$1,124,3 million during the same period last year. The media segment saw a 13% decrease in operating revenue from SG$834,221 million last year to SG$725,427 million this year. This was due to a 16.9% decrease in advertisement revenue to SG$102.5 million and a SG$8.7 million decline in circulation revenue to SG$8.7 million.

However, SPH reported during its recent annual general meeting (AGM) that newspaper circulation for both print and digital editions saw a year-on-year (yoy) increase of 4.4%, averaging 923,000 copies each day. Total digital circulation amounted to 285,600 copies daily, equating to a 40.3% yoy growth.

According to SPH's chairman Lee Boon Yang at the AGM, the company has undertaken wide-ranging projects to "rejuvenate, reinvent and reposition" itself and is transforming its business model to source for new growth opportunities. Lee added that SPH will continue to strengthen its core media business with quality content, technological innovations and strategic partnerships.

"In this era of fake news and alternative facts, we will stay true to our mission of delivering original, in-depth, boots-on-the-ground and accurate journalism. At the same time, we are reshaping our newsrooms and strengthening our news platforms to meet the changing demands of our advertisers and consumers," Lee said. During the AGM, SPH also announced that it has completed its 10% headcount reduction, which were previously slated to conclude by 2018.

Among the list of new capabilities SPH is investing in include content marketing, digital, data analytics and radio. It aims to extend the international reach of The Straits Times (ST) and Lianhe Zaobao through digital subscription. For example, it brought current affairs into the classroom by launching two new education portals under the SPH Education initiative, which are spearheaded by ST and Lianhe Zaobao. The portals will feature digitised multimedia from newspapers, interactive broadcasting, radio and animation.

Recently, SPH also conducted a major restructuring exercise for its Chinese Media Group (CMG), to merge editorial resources from Lianhe ZaobaoLianhe Wanbao, and CMG Digital to form NewsHub. NewsHub will facilitate news coverage and offer latest news updates for CMG’s digital platforms, including zaobao.sg and zaobao.com.

It is also expanding its portfolio with the launch of two new radio stations in January 2018 - 96.3 Hao FM and Money FM 89.3. Money FM 89.3 will be Singapore’s 6 first business and personal finance radio station in English, while the other is a Chinese Infotainment station for active seniors aged 50 and above, called 96.3好FM.

News of the radio stations first emerged in March this year, after SPH won a public tender for the two frequencies issued by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), which was then known as the Media Development Authority. The move also brings the total number of SPH radio stations to five. Currently, SPH operates ONE FM 91.3, Kiss92 and UFM100.3.

Meanwhile, SPH's digital division established a partnership with IMDA, to produce and distribute short-form digital video content on SPH's multimedia platforms. This is part of a pilot public service broadcast initiative. In August, SPH collaborated with Mediacorp to create a new digital advertising marketplace using programmatic solutions. Tentatively named Singapore Media Exchange, the joint venture will commit at least two billion display and video impressions annually across a selection of SPH and Mediacorp platforms. The inventory for this private marketplace resides across desktop, mobile web and mobile app.

It also entered into a joint venture with ZBJ Network, Inc., China's largest online creative services platform earlier this year, to help companies in Singapore grow their businesses by engaging service providers at the new website ZomWork.com. On the outdoor advertising front, SPHMBO secured marketing rights to new advertising locations in Singapore's central business district, its fringes and within major heartland hubs.

In May this year, SPH named Ng Yat Chung as executive director and CEO to replace Alan Chan. Patrick Daniel also retired and stepped down as deputy CEO.

"We will remain prudent, agile and resilient as we look out for potential opportunities to add value to the group. I am confident that with the continued support of all our stakeholders, SPH can ride the challenges and strive for the long term sustainability and growth of the company," Lee added.