Singapore Press Holdings' media business continues to struggle, with revenue falling by S$33.4 million (US$24.7 million) in the first half of the 2019 fiscal year, representing a 10.1% drop to S$296.2 million (US$218.7 million) overall. Profit slipped by S$1.7 million (US$1.3 million), or 3.8% lower to S$42.1 million (US$31.1 million).
SPH partly blamed a shorter festive advertising window between Christmas and Chinese New Year this year, but the results are in line with annual media losses of 9.6% reported last October.
In the second quarter of fiscal year 2019, a drop in print ad revenue contributed to an overall 4.4% drop in SPH's overall operating revenue though the company states that print declines are slowing.
Digital ad revenue continues to be the silver lining, rising 15.1% in the first half of this fiscal year from a year ago, with total digital revenue (including digital portals, circulation and online classifieds) up 13.1%.
“We continue to make progress with our digital transformation strategy," said SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung. "Although the media business continues to experience headwinds, revenue from the digital side of the business is showing growth."
Operational highlights in the media business included the expansion of the Singapore Media Exchange, an advertising exchange set up by SPH and MediaCorp. Seven new partners were added earlier this month in a bid to reach a wider audience.
In March, SPH launched a news tablet package to grow new digital subscribers. Over 2,000 were added within two weeks of launch. The package included a Samsung tablet and a pre-loaded e-paper version of Chinese newspaper publications.