June's issue is said to be the magazine's last
End of the road for Motoring

MOTORING, Singapore's oldest automotive publication, is closing down after three decades on the road.

The Straits Times understands that the magazine will fold after its June issue.

Its publisher, Eastern Holdings, was not available for comment. But sources close to the firm cited increased competition from other motoring titles such as Torque and Evo as a reason for the move.

They also said a stronger presence of online motoring sites - including those put up by foreign car publications - had eroded Motoring's viability.

'They have a responsibility to their readers as well as to their shareholders,' one observer said of Eastern.

Eastern Holdings, which acquired Motoring in 1990, did not fare well last year. Its net earnings halved to $8.12 million from the year before, owing largely to losses incurred by its property division.

Its publishing division made $9.14 million, 7.2 per cent lower than its profit in 2009.

Its other titles include Motherhood, Teens, Frequent Traveller and Golf.

Mr Dennis Toh, a media industry watcher, said Eastern Holdings' move may be a sign of 'a shift in media advertising budget to online and social media'.

'It could also be a reflection of the slow car market now,' he added, referring to a market size that is a third of its peak in the mid-2000s.

The shrinkage is on the back of a smaller supply of certificates of entitlement.

Mr Toh added that size matters in the publishing business. Even so, he was a little surprised, given Motoring's history.

'In Singapore, you would think that people want to read about cars. I believe there is a market for car magazines,' he said. 'Also, there aren't many men's titles around to begin with.'

Other observers reckon local magazines - not just motoring magazines - face increasingly stiff competition from foreign publications.

But Mr Eugene Low, deputy managing director (lifestyle division) of SPH Magazines, said that does not mean there is no place for local publications.

'Over the last six months, there have been several new titles launched. So it's not as if the market is shrinking. It could be that the new players are eating into the pie of some existing ones.'

Mr Low said any magazine needs to have a niche. 'You also need to have a relevance to your readers, and maintain that relevance over the years,' he added.