Print media is in no danger of disappearing in the Philippines due to the country’s “underdeveloped” technology infrastructure.
This was view of UP College of Mass Communication professor Danilo Arao in light of Gokongwei-led Summit Media’s recent shutdown of its print business in a shift to fully digital operations.
“Definitely print is not dying. Print will be here with us despite the technological changes that we are going through right now,” he told The Manila Times.
“For as long as we have a high level of underdevelopment in the technological infrastructure that would provide for, let’s say, a 100-percent of internet penetration rate, [we]would still remain a high print [market],” he noted.
Data from statistics provider Statista put the percentage of internet users in the Philippines at 50.77 percent last year, with the figure expected to increase to 52.3 percent by the end-2018.
Smartphone users also grew by 16 percent to 30.4 million as of end-December 2016. This year, the number of users is expected to hit 34.44 million.
With the country’s population estimated to hit 106 million this year, the internet and smartphone numbers mean that many Filipinos remain more familiar with paper publications.
Summit Media’s closure of its print arm came as a no surprise as the publishing giant had slowly trimmed its roster of magazines over the last few years.
Last week’s announcement means that the remaining print titles of Cosmopolitan, Preview, YES!, Top Gear and Town & Country would join purely digital publications like Entrepreneur.ph and PEP.ph.
“It’s nothing surprising and I think that as part of the dominance in the media, the Gokongweis … see an opportunity to maintain its bottomline through online advertisements and other ways to monetize their number of social media users and online visitors,” Arao said.
He said the transitioning of other media outlets to digital would also not pose a threat to the print industry as it was being simply recognized as an “evolution.”
“It will all boil down on the target audience and the purpose of publication. Because remember that Summit Media caters more to a high-brow [audience]or the middle class … So we all know that it doesn’t really cater to the masses,” he said.
“But for certain publications that cater to particularly the countryside would appeal more to the masses, then of course print is still the way to go.”
For veteran journalist Vergel Santos of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, however, print cannot escape having to attempt to move to digital given current trends.
“It seems to me that digitalization is the way over time and therefore, everybody [in the print industry]simply cannot escape the pressure of switching,” Santos said.
“If you look at our own setting, you will see that … more than 80 percent of the advertising budget still goes to television … and if you look at print now, print is fighting for only less than 5 percent of the advertising budget so even before, there is not enough money to make on publications in print,” he added.
Factors also contributing to print’s decline include the lopsided distribution of resources and opportunities, and the disappearing habit of reading.
“These do not go well for print,” Santos said.