Wednesday, September 24, 2008

South China Morning Post

The South China Morning Post, together with its Sunday edition, the Sunday Morning Post, is an newspaper of Hong Kong, with a circulation of 104,000. Published by the SCMP Group, the South China Morning Post has a higher print circulation than its main competitors in Hong Kong, ''The Standard'' and the ''International Herald Tribune''.

The editor is CK Lau, who replaced the controversial Mark Clifford after he was ousted in April 2007.



South China Morning Post Ltd was founded in 1903. The first edition of the paper published on November 6, 1903. In November 1971, it was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It was privatised by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1987, and relisted in 1990.

Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok's Kerry Media bought the controlling interest from News Corp in October 1993. His son, Kuok Khoon Ean, took over as chairman at the end of 1997.

Circulation and profitability

The paper has a circulation which has remained relatively constant at 104,000 copies since 2000, but is lower than a decade ago. The average audited circulation for the first half of 2007 stood at 106,054, while its Sunday edition, the ''Sunday Morning Post'' has a readership of 80,865. Its readership outside Hong Kong remains at some 6,825 copies for the same period, again, relatively unchanged. It also had the enviable position as the most profitable newspaper in the world on a "per reader" basis, profit declined since peaking in 1997 at HK$805 million, yet its growth potential is viewed as being largely dependent on its ability to penetrate the wider Chinese market.

The Group reported net profit of HK$338 million for the year 2006 , the operating profit of HK$419m was attributable mainly to the newspaper operation..

The selling price of the paper is HK$7 each from Monday to Saturday, and HK$8 for the ''Sunday Morning Post''. Discounted price is given for students' subscription.


The printed version of the Post is in a broadsheet format, in sections: Main, City, Sport, Business, Classifieds, Property , Racing , Technology , Education , Style magazine ; the Sunday edition contains Main, a Review section, a Post Magazine, Racing, and "Young Post", targeted at the younger readers.

On 26 March 2007, the post was given a facelift, with new presentation and fonts.

Online version

'''' is a subscription-only service, which also allows the retrieval of archive articles dating back from 1993. It was launched online in December 1996. On May 30, 2007, relaunched with a new look, features, and multimedia content. Headlines and the introduction to stories are now free to view, while the full articles are available to subscribers. Archive photos and articles are available for purchase.

On July 16, 2007, launched its first-ever viral video marketing campaign targeting a global audience and highlighting the new multimedia features of the website.


The Kuok family is known to be pro-, and questions have been raised over its editorial independence. There have been concerns, denied by Kuok, over the forced departures, in rapid succession, of several staff and contributors who were considered critical of China or its supporters in Hong Kong. These included, in the mid-1990s, their popular cartoonist Larry Feign, humor columnist Nury Vittachi, and numerous China desk staff, namely 2000-01 editorial pages editor Danny Gittings, Beijing correspondent Jasper Becker, and China pages editor Willy Lam, who departed after his reporting had been publicly criticised by Robert Kuok.

Cartoonist Feign was abruptly dismissed not long after Kuok's purchase of the newspaper, after running several cartoons about the alleged culling of human body parts from Chinese prisoners. His firing was defended as "cost cutting", but was widely viewed as political self-censorship during the jittery final years before Hong Kong's handover to the PRC.

Editorial page editor Gittings complained that in January 2001 he was ordered not to run extracts of the Tiananmen Papers, but was only allowed to after protesting "strenuously". The editor, however, believed that there had already been sufficient coverage.

At the launch of a joint report published by the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Article 19 in July 2001, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists' Association said: "More and more newspapers self-censor themselves because they are controlled by either a businessman with close ties to Beijing, or part of a large enterprise, which has financial interests over the border."

Mark Clifford, appointed Editor-in-Chief in February 2006, also enjoyed a turbulent 14 months in the job. He was responsible for the high profile dismissal of a number of journalists over an internal prank.

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