New readers and elderly contribute to SPH's future

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New people and new technology are contributing to a publishing turnaround at Singapore Press Holdings, which has reported a quarterly profits increase of almost two thirds.

The company reported a greater focus on digital publishing and subscriptions, plus lower wage costs, have contributed to a 64 per cent rise profits (compared to last year) despite the quarter's operating revenue falling by 3.8 per cent to just over $250million.

Diversification into property - including retail and elderly care facilities - is also paying dividends.

Looking to the future, deputy chief executive Anthony Tan has also flagged greater use of AI (artificial intelligence) to increase newsroom productivity and personalise news output for Straits Times readers. "This will not only enhance the reader journey, but also increase internal productivity," he said.

A partnership with local ML start-up DC Frontiers will see the development of an AI-driven content-recommendation engine which will curate articles for individual readers. "AI technologies offer great potential in the news and media industry, and we are keenly exploring ways to apply them to improve our products and better serve our users," he said.

The moves follow an announcement that its content marketing unit was being consolidated and rebranded as 'Sweet'.

Chief executive officer Ng Yat Chung said that there were "early signs" of a slower decline in media revenue as SPH continued to sharpen its media capabilities in the face of digital disruption. "At the same time, we are making efforts to diversify, with new growth thrusts. Our new strategy is to focus on the acquisition of cash-yielding real estate assets overseas."

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