SPH buys nursing home operator as media circulation drops

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The state media, ST, reported today (26 Apr) that its parent holding company SPH is entering the healthcare sector with a $164 million purchase of nursing home operator Orange Valley Healthcare

Orange Valley runs five nursing homes in Singapore and operates other related services too. Nursing home business is expected to be lucrative as more Singaporeans age. One in 4 is expected to be aged above 65 by 2030, SPH said.

The media business of SPH has been going down as it loses the monopoly of news with the advent of digital social media.

The graph shows that net readership for all of SPH’s newspapers peaked at around 3 million in 2009. However, it has been going south since then, ending at around 2.4 million in 2015. This is a 20% drop:

These 4 Charts Show How Singapore Press Holdings Limited Is Being Disrupted

Drop in media circulation spells bad news for PAP Govt

The shift of eyeballs away from SPH newspapers is certainly bad news for the PAP Govt.

The PAP Govt in the past relied a lot on the control of media to affect the public opinion about the govt, especially among the heartlanders like our Ah Po(s), Ah Kong(s), Ah Soh(s) and Ah Chek(s).

The control of the media was revealed by the former editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng in his memoir, ‘OB Markers: My Straits Times Story’.

Cheong recounted how, since 1986, there has been a government-appointed “monitor” at the newspaper, “someone who could watch to see if indeed the newsroom was beyond control”, and that disapproval of the “monitor” could cost a reporter or editor their job.

Cheong identified the first monitor as S R Nathan, director of the Ministry of Defence’s Security and Intelligence Division and later President of Singapore.

And as recounted by former Presidential candidate Tan Jee Say, Nathan even tried to recruit him to help “transform” ST as then PM Lee Kuan Yew wasn’t too happy with the way ST had reported news. Jee Say said “no” to Nathan:

My interactions with S R NathanI first met the late Mr S R Nathan 40 years ago. I had returned from overseas studies…

Posted by Jeesay Tan on Friday, 2 September 2016

[When Nathan retired from the civil service in January 1982, no one expected him to fade away but instead to resurface in some other role. True enough, it was soon announced that he would be the executive chairman of Straits Times Press.

I was amused when I received a telephone call from him in his new role. He told me that he had just had lunch with PM Lee Kuan Yew who had suggested that he persuaded me to work with him to transform the Straits Times. He invited me to lunch.

On his new mission, Nathan quoted PM as having told him: “It’s like handling a piece of china. If you break it, I will pick up the pieces but it won’t be the same again.” PM did not want Nathan to break up the organisation but to work with existing people to change it.

He asked me to join him in this mission as PM had suggested my name. He thought I would be impressed. But I told him that I had been approached a year ago by the chairman of the Public Service Commission, the late Mr Tan Teck Chwee, who was also asked by PM to consider sending me to the Straits Times.

Apparently the two gentlemen had a long lunch at which the PM expressed his unhappiness over the way the Straits Times reported the Anson by-election which the PAP lost, its first election defeat in 18 years. He probably expected more losses unless changes were made to the way the media reported on government policies. I had told the good chairman that I was more interested in economic development policy work than in promoting political propaganda.]

Source: We want Minister Grace Fu to resign