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  • Research performed by Economist Impact, commissioned by the Society of Publishers in Asia and supported by the Google News Initiative, highlights long-term unsustainability in the Asia-Pacific's news media industry despite evergreen demand – stressing the need for technological and business model innovation
  • The report reflects insights from consumers as well as 500 industry, government and NGO executives across the Asia-Pacific, including 150 media and publishing executives

HONG KONG SAR - 19 July 2022 - The News Sustainability: Investing in the Future of Asia-Pacific's Info-Ecosystem report launched today highlights the critical need for the Asia-Pacific's news media industry to innovate via technological investments and new business models. Commissioned by the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA), supported by the Google News Initiative, and prepared by Economist Impact, the report highlights the challenges and opportunities within the region's news media landscape, and how organisations are rethinking business models as consumer demands evolve.

Evergreen demand for accurate and reliable information
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and an evolving business landscape driven by digitalisation, the role of reliable news in enabling the Asia-Pacific's societies to function remains more critical than ever.

The report finds that this demand is strongly apparent in the Asia-Pacific, reflecting the bullish sentiment shared by 82 percent of surveyed executives who believe in sustainable industry profitability, whilst 83 percent of media and publishing executives expect healthy demand growth. Yet, many executives think that converting the region's inherent market value into revenue will be challenging. On top of that, misinformation has become a chief concern among the market stakeholders, expressed by 76% of consumers, whereas 81% of executives believe that misinformation can seriously threaten the news media industry's long-term sustainability.

"Societies depend heavily on the veracity and accessibility of news to function efficiently. Significant change is happening – socially, economically and technologically – so regional news media stakeholders must adapt to maintain their industry's sustainability. Through this report, we hope to provide industry executives and investors, as well as policymakers, the insights needed to build a stronger and lasting news media ecosystem, as it will continue to keep people informed and connected amid our rapidly changing environment," said Byron Perry, Chair of the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA).

The need to rethink and innovate business models
Digital transformation is causing a significant rethink of business models across a wide variety of industries in the Asia-Pacific. The news media industry is especially impacted due to changes in consumer behaviours and the rise of digital competitors, highlighting the crucial need for adaptability. Despite this, 53 percent of news media and publishing executives think their organisation's current business model will not be viable in the next five years, with 62 percent of them even believing that their organisation under-invested in digital strategies over the previous five years.

Views also differ on whether technology has positively or negatively disrupted the region's news media industry. 53 percent of all executives believe that digital technologies are threatening news media industry business viability but simultaneously, 87 percent of all executives believe that the right technology investments can improve long-term industry sustainability.

There is also a dichotomy about how the news media industry must evolve. 54 percent of all executives believe news media companies must create new revenue sources or business models, especially beyond advertising sales or subscriptions, as noted by 65 percent of corporate executives and 73 percent of NGO executives. Meanwhile, 46 percent of executives believe in intensifying advertising sales and subscriptions, including 38 percent of media and publishing executives who are less enthused about focusing on other business models. In contrast, industry experts all believe that diversification is needed to build loyalty and revenue in the future – such as via events, podcasts and videos, online classifieds, or even cooking or game verticals.

"The past few years have shown that innovation is no longer a good-to-have, but a critical must-have. While there are different perceptions as to how the industry should innovate its business models, the three keys to success are to embrace technology, to think creatively, and to never compromise on quality" said Naka Kondo, Manager, Policy and Insights, Economist Impact.

"We work closely with news partners across the region to support their goals and strengthen quality journalism and have seen first-hand the innovation that is taking place to explore new business models and find new ways to connect with audiences," Kate Beddoe, Director of News Partnerships, Google Asia Pacific said.

The News Sustainability: Investing in the Future of Asia-Pacific's Info-Ecosystem report reflects the findings of two surveys conducted by Economist Intelligence across 12 markets in the Asia-Pacific region – one with over 2,000 consumers and another with 500 executives spanning over 20 industries, including 150 media and publishing, as well as those from government and NGO organisations. The report also includes additional insights gleaned from in-depth interviews with media industry experts.

To download the full report, visit https://impact.economist.com/perspectives/technology-innovation/news-sustainability-investing-future-asia-pacifics-info-ecosystem.

About the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA)
The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) is a Hong Kong-based not-for-profit organisation that was founded in 1982 dedicated to pursuing excellence in journalism. This year marks SOPA's 40th anniversary since its founding to champion freedom of the press, promote excellence in journalism and endorse best practices for all local and regional publishing platforms in the Asia Pacific region.

Today, SOPA is the voice of Asia's media and publishing industry, and continues to work to uphold media standards and freedoms while celebrating and supporting professional journalism and publishing. The SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence are the annual flagship awards, serving as a regional benchmark for quality, professional journalism.

About Economist Impact
Economist Impact combines the rigour of a think-tank with the creativity of a media brand to engage a globally influential audience. It believes that evidence-based insights can open debate, broaden perspectives and catalyse progress. The services offered by Economist Impact previously existed within The Economist Group as separate entities, including EIU Thought Leadership, EIU Public Policy, Economist Events, EBrandConnect and SignalNoise.

Economist Impact's track record spans 75 years across 205 countries. Along with creative storytelling, events expertise, design-thinking solutions and market-leading media products, it produces framework design, benchmarking, economic and social impact analysis, forecasting and scenario modelling, making Economist Impact's offering unique in the marketplace. Visit www.economistimpact.com for more information.

About Google News Initiative
The Google News Initiative is Google's effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Its efforts focus on three pillars: working with the news industry to evolve their business models and drive sustainable growth, elevating quality journalism and empowering news organizations with new technology.

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