Friday, May 04, 2007

收費報章自求多福

新聞集團(News Corp.)老闆梅鐸(Rupert Murdoch)開出天價390億港元,全面收購道瓊斯公司(Dow Jones),令人對傳媒股又再起關注,但翌日美國報業協會最新的報紙銷售量核數報告卻是一盆冷水,皆因報告話美國各日報對上六個月的平均銷量(截至今年3月31日止),持續按年下跌2.1%(比06年對05年的1.9%跌幅加劇),星期日版的報紙則跌3.1%。平均銷量下跌最勁之一是《達拉斯晨報》(Dallas Morning News),達14%,大報《洛杉磯時報》(Los Angeles Times)下跌4.2%,《華盛頓郵報》(Washington Post)下跌3.5%。錄得銷量上升的僅有《美國今日報》(USA Today),上升0.2%,及《華爾街日報》(Wall Street Journal),上升0.6%。

雖然此報告主要涵蓋當地收費報紙,未有涉及方興未艾的免費報紙,但對收費報章市場趨勢亦有一定啟示意義。

有評論指,《美國今日報》的銷量上升,或許是拜不斷向酒店及班機等地點發送割價版或免費版所致,而《洛杉磯時報》亦將銷量下跌歸因削減了向學校及酒店派送的免費贈閱版。他們更指,市面上出售的零售版銷量其實是有上升的。從此可見,似乎收費報紙中的免費贈閱版比重是一個值得研究的課題,尤其是對付錢的廣告商而言。

在香港,你經常見到一些收費報紙隨處有免費贈閱版派發,又或者以超低價供人訂閱(連派送成本也收不回),禤中怡不禁要問為何會這樣,到底收費報章所聲稱,人們是因為付了費購買報章,所以才用心閱讀的理據何在?

大勢所趨,事實是美國收費報紙的銷量在過去10年間穩步下跌,要問的問題是究竟跌勢何時終止,甚至止跌回升,業內人士都不敢樂觀,這個跌勢又巧合地與互聯網的發展差不多同步發生,難怪早前《經濟學人》雜誌以「誰殺了報紙?」(Who killed the newspaper?)為封面故事時,業內同聲一哭,輿論立即將互聯網定為主要兇手,免費報紙亦被定罪成為幫兇。可是,收費報紙集團又紛紛著力發展網上版及本身的免費報紙,爭著要成為自己核心業務的主要兇手及幫兇,幫手謀殺自己,諷刺之極。

收費報紙集團的如意算盤是,以互聯網業務的收益補回本業的廣告收益損失,不過由於互聯網廣告收費同傳統報紙廣告收費水平相差甚遠,如意算盤暫時打不響。以06年美國市場為例,報紙網上版的廣告收益平均佔報紙收益僅7%,雖然去年這方面收益飛升三成有多,但實際收入仍比不上同期傳統報紙的廣告收益的「輕微」下跌的1.7%。

由此可見,當報業股不斷強調網上收益時,可能只是煙幕,投資者更要留意的是核心業務的收益,而在香港的情況,一些報業股業務廣泛,手上現金充裕,盈利來源或者是趁股市暢旺時,從投資證券所賺來的,而非來自本業,投資者自己更須多加研究其投資價值。

銷量下跌 反有利成本下降
報紙銷量普遍下跌,但所謂有幸有不幸,令白報紙的需求亦萎縮,影響之下白報紙的價格在早幾年攀上高峰後,今年反而開始下滑。根據加拿大紙漿及紙業產品公會的數字,3月份北美白報紙的市場需求比一年前下跌了13.4%,著實不是小數,而扣除了存倉等因素,3月份北美的白報紙實際每日消耗量按年跌幅是8.7%,由於北美的白報紙使用量屬世界龍頭,對白報紙的價格有重大影響。白報紙價格如果持續由高峰回落,對本地的報業股應是有利因素,皆因報業的主要成本就是白報紙,人工租金等支出反而是次要。

(5月4日刊於《am730》)

13 Comments:

At 11:28 PM, Blogger 散仔 said...

我反而覺得收費報章銷量下跌係大勢,如果佢地唔發展免費報章同互聯網業務不是損失更多生意嗎 ?

 
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