Hong Kong residents buy Apple Daily to show support

Apple Daily’s parent Next Digital’s share price skyrockets

Brisk sales of Apple Daily's Chinese edition
Brisk sales of Apple Daily's Chinese edition

When asked to comment on his arrest on Monday morning, Jimmy Lai is reported to have said of the police, “What else could they do.” While the Hong Kong authorities arrested Lai, the publisher of Apple Daily, to enforce the new national security law that takes away the ‘one country two system’s concept that was supposed to apply to the former British territory for another 20 years, there has been an outpouring of support from residents. A total of ten people were arrested, including the pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow who was arrested on Monday night.

The editor and staff have said they will continue their editorial stand for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous territory in opposition to Beijing’s homogenization of its legal and political system into its own. Ryan Law, the chief editor of Apple Daily, said the paper would not be intimidated by the raid.

On the morning of 11 August, there were queues at downtown newsstands to buy copies of Apple Daily in an energetic show of support. Sales were brisk with the paper printing 500,000 copies instead of the usual 100,000. The front page had a photo of the police taking Lai away with the headline, ‘Apple will fight on.’

On Monday, the share price of Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital, rose more than 300%. On Tuesday afternoon, it has gone up another 500% from Monday’s closing stock price.

Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia program coordinator, said the arrest “bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong’s National Security Law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom. Jimmy Lai should be released at once and any charges dropped.”

While police have not released details of the cause of arrest, it is presumed that Lai will be accused of collusion with a foreign power, which the law criminalizes. Lai has been a visitor to Washington to solicit support for Hong Kong democracy and met up with US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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