Free-for-all in the mud with yet another freebie coming on-stream

[中文][Aug 2011 - The JournalistA new Chinese tabloid hit the market on July 27. Sky Post, published by the Hong Kong Economic Times Group (HKET), is the fifth free daily in the city and the fourth in Chinese. Almost one third of the newspaper market is now taken up by freebies with their combined circulation of two million copies a day, more than the total of paid newspapers.

This huge jump may draw more advertising revenue. It has certainly pushed the Next Media Group which owns Apple Daily, one of the top three newspapers in terms of circulation, to enter the freebies battlefield.

This newbie to be called Sharp Daily, is aiming for a daily circulation of more than one million. To differentiate it from the paid Apple and avoid dragging down its circulation, Sharp Daily will be out on its own.

The newcomer will not merely be threatening its own sister. Its going to drag every one into the mud for a free-for-all.

HKET’s Sky Post has targeted the young people with a mix of current affairs, entertainment and style.Although the freebie market is highly competitive, Sky Post is expected to make the advertising pie larger.

Sky Post's predecessor was Take me Home, a free district-based weekly. The Chinese name of Sky Post is “Ching Po”, meaning Sunny Paper. Its editors say they hope readers will feel sunny after reading it.

Strictly speaking, journalists welcome more newspapers as it means more job opportunities. But it remains to be seen whether the success of free papers will further erode the development of paid newspapers and thus threaten the job security of some journalists.