Wall Street Journal set to stop print edition in HK

Local | Amy Nip 30 Aug 2017

The Wall Street Journal will stop distributing its print edition in Hong Kong on October 7, in yet another sign of print media's dire straits.

The paper, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire, is scaling back print operations in Europe and Asia to cut costs and focus on digital media. In an e-mail to subscribers, the New York-based Journal said it will distribute the last printed issue on October 6. Subscribers can shift to the online version.

The newspaper costs HK$23 an issue in Hong Kong, while a digital subscription costs US$12 (HK$93.60) for 12 weeks. The US edition of the Journal is published Monday to Saturday. Asian and European editions are published Monday to Friday.

The newspaper is under Dow Jones & Co, which is a part of News Corp. Dow Jones did not respond to The Standard as of press time.

News Corp reported a loss of US$643 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 compared to a US$235 million profit the previous year.

Total revenues fell 2 percent year- on-year to US$8.14 billion, reflecting lower print advertising revenues at the news and information services segment, in which the Journal is included.

But its digital version seems to be on the rise. In the three months ending July, the WSJ had 1.27 million daily digital-only subscribers, 322,000 more than the 948,000 the year before. It means the number of people who subscribe to the digital-only service has exceeded hard copy subscribers or a bundled product including both print and digital.

Overseas media reported in June that the paper was scaling back its print operations in Europe and Asia to cut costs and focus on digital. The plan included eliminating free copies and cutting down hotel distribution deals that are not profitable, The New York Times quoted sources as saying. It reported that the Journal will continue to publish an Asian edition in Tokyo, but is exploring ways to reduce print publishing elsewhere in Asia.

At the time, a Dow Jones spokeswoman said the company was "constantly examining the balance between print and digital at a time when we're seeing sharp growth in customer demand for digital." She said Journal digital subscriptions doubled in Asia in the last year.

Print media locally is also going through a digital transition. Next Media's Eat and Travel Weekly, a 20-year-old food magazine, issued its last print edition on August 3 and has since switched to digital. In a Facebook announcement the publisher said: "Due to the downhill trend of print media, we regret to announce that the print version of Eat and Travel Weekly Magazine has to say goodbye."

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