Media: The Sun Rises in the East - and Sets off a Price War A Racy New Mass-Market Newspaper Is about to Hit Hong Kong. Many Fear T He Worst
Vines, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)
DOES ANY of the following sound familiar ? A racy new mass- market newspaper will be brash, hot on human interest stories, strong on sports coverage and carry lots of entertainment news. And another thing, it will be called The Sun.
The new Sun, however, is far removed from Britain: it is to launched in Hong Kong this Thursday. Like its namesake, though, it belongs to an aggressive publishing company which is prepared to launch a price war to secure its place in the market.
The Hong Kong publisher of The Sun is the Oriental Press Group, which is euphemistically described as being either "colourful" or "controversial". It already owns Hong Kong's best selling newspaper, The Oriental Daily News, and a clutch of other high selling titles. It is now heading in an even more downmarket direction, hoping to attract younger readers and, according to its pre-launch marketing material, take readers away from its bitter rival, the revolutionary Apple Daily newspaper. The rivalry between the Oriental group and the Next Media Group, which owns Apple, sparked a vicious price war two years ago which ended with five closures in Hong Kong's newspaper world. The Sun will be launched with a cover price of HK$2 (about 18p), while the competition sells at HK$5. The third ranking Sing Pao Daily has already launched a pre-emptive strike by promising to sell at HK$3 while the Apple Daily has made it clear that it will not sit idly by in a price war. While the battle lines are being drawn on the price front, there is considerable speculation over how the fight will be pursued at the editorial level, where there are fears of greater sensationalism. Last week all the popular papers ran big stories about a rumoured suicide attempt by Leon Lai, a heart throb big league pop star, who had to hold a press conference to prove he was not dead or self- mutilated. Some in the newspaper industry fear that The Sun will drag reporting down to new depths, but its publishers promise that it will be "self-disciplined" and stress "good taste" with an "avoidance of obscene, indecent and profane language". …