a media industry resource

SPH Group


This profile considers the Singapore-based SPH group.

The group

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) operates four broadcasting stations and publishes the dominant newspapers in Singapore, competing - cautiously - with the government's MediaCorp (MCS) and in the past with Aw family titles such as the Sin Chew Jit Poh. It centres on the Straits Times.

The group has expanded into multimedia, video-film production, property investment and services. It has substantial pay television and telecommunication interests.

Prior to 2000 SPH was the monopoly newspaper publisher, with MediaCorp controlling most radio and television broadcasts. In that year, with government's blessing, both groups moved into each other's territory. SPH established two free-to-air television channels (U and I) to compete with MediaCorp's Channels 5, 8 and Channel NewsAsia. MediaCorp also launched the Today free tabloid. Pseudo-diversity was expensive and short-lived, with MediaCorp reportedly losing S$50 million on Today and S$15 million on television each year, with SPH losses at around S$50 million per year for television and S$5 million on the Streats free tabloid.

In August 2004 SPH and MediaCorp announced the merger of their television and free newspaper operations. A new holding company, MediaCorp TV Holdings - comprising MediaCorp TV Singapore Pte Ltd (MCTV) and MediaCorp Studios Pte Ltd - was established to operate television channels 5, 8, U and TVMobile (with Channel i ceasing in January 2005). MediaCorp TV Holdings is 80% owned by MediaCorp and 20% by SPH, with MediaCorp responsible for management and operation of the merged entities.

SPH also ceased publication of Streats, its free newspaper, absorbed by TODAY (published by MediaCorp Press Pte Ltd, in which MediaCorp has a 60% stake and SPH has 40%), operating independently of the SPH newspapers.


C.M. Turnbull's Dateline Singapore: 150 Years of the Straits Times (Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings 1995) is celebratory. For the beginnings of the Mandarin press see Chen Mong Hock's The Early Chinese Newspapers of Singapore, 1881-1912 (Singapore: Uni of Malaya Press 1967).

Two perspectives are provided by Francis Seow's sobering The Media Enthralled - Singapore Revisited (Boulder: Rienner 1998) and The development of Singapore's modern media industry (Singapore: Times Academic Press 1994) by Yew Soon Tan & Soh Yew Peng.