Alibaba has agreed to buy Hong Kong’s flagship English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, the most politically sensitive acquisition by the e-commerce giant to date.
Alibaba and SCMP Group Ltd announced on Friday that the Hangzhou-primarily based firm would purchase the 112-year-old newspaper and other media properties for an undisclosed quantity.
The buy, which follows a string of media deals by Alibaba, is likely to raise concerns in Hong Kong, where the South China Morning Post occupies an crucial position among the English-speaking elite who nevertheless dominate the former British colony.
Chinese-language dailies could be a lot more influential than the Post, but modifications in its editorial path are noticed as a barometer for press freedom under Chinese rule.
Alibaba has acquired or invested in a growing portfolio of media and content material businesses in recent years.
“The SCMP has iconic status in the region, with a strong reputation internationally for the quality and credibility of its journalism over the years,” Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, stated in a letter to SCMP readers.
“Like numerous print media, however, the SCMP faces challenges amid the dramatic modifications in the way news is reported and distributed. But these changes play to Alibaba’s strengths, which is why we believe the two firms complement each and every other nicely.”
New owners seek to address concerns about independence
Alibaba chairman Jack Ma is no stranger to controversy at the newspaper.
In 2013, a reporter for the Post quit right after quoting Mr Ma as getting created remarks in assistance of Beijing’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Mr Ma denied at the time that he had made such an assertion.
Mr Tsai sought to address issues about editorial independence in his letter.
“In reporting the news, the SCMP will be objective, correct and fair… day-to-day editorial decisions will be driven by editors in the newsroom, not in the corporate boardroom.”
Nonetheless, some SCMP employees members stated the takeover was unlikely to have much influence more than the publication’s content, and greeted the news with resignation.
“The SCMP has not had an editorial balance for far more than a decade. We do not think that will alter beneath a mainland Chinese owner,” said an editor who has worked at the newspaper for a lot more than a decade.
Friday’s agreement includes SCMP Group’s other media assets, such as licenses to the Hong Kong editions of Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar.
Financial terms of the deal had been not disclosed.
Subjects: print-media, info-and-communication, media, industry, china, hong-kong