Next Magazine sale stokes concern over HK media

HONG KONG • Hong Kong media company Next Digital, founded by tycoon and outspoken Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, yesterday said it plans to sell its flagship magazine and four others to a local businessman for HK$500 million (S$88 million).

The magazine is known for its in-depth reports about Chinese and local politics, as well as gossip articles on the city's social elite, triads and entertainers.

The board at Next Digital will negotiate a formal agreement with a company owned by Mr Kenny Wee, a Hong Kong-born businessman and former owner of the free Metro Daily newspaper, it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Sham Yee Lan said the magazine had suffered because of businesses pulling ads due to its political stance.

"Most of Hong Kong's mainstream publications have fallen in line when covering news that China thinks is sensitive. They censor themselves," Ms Sham said.

"Next Magazine is one of the very few outlets that do not try to please Beijing when covering sensitive news. It has guts. So people are worried now... This will have a huge impact."

Over its past 27 years, Next Magazine has scored numerous scoops, but it has also been repeatedly sued for libel and defamation.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Next Magazine sale stokes concern over HK media'. Print Edition | Subscribe