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[hong kong] The 7-month-old regional business daily Asia Times switches to a new rate card this month and breaks ads based on its contentious positioning as an Asian publication for Asians.

So far, despite introductory offers that competitors say amount to virtually free ads, the Asia Times has not weakened support for the Asian Wall Street Journal, its main rival. "They still have to prove that advertisers need it, and they need time to do that," said John McClure, Dentsu Young & Rubicam's regional media director.

The new rates range from $6,330 for a single b&w page to $3,795 per page for 52 insertions. The target is four ad pages per issue. In May, the paper carried between two and 2.5 ad pages daily.

"The bookings [post-June] look comfortable," said Hong Kong-based publisher Peter Kennedy, formerly publisher of Asia Inc., a monthly business magazine published by the same group. "We expect the advertising to continue to come."

A five-month TV, outdoor and print campaign using regional and national publications breaks this month from Ogilvy & Mather, Hong Kong, positioning Asia Times as an Asian publication written and published in Asia by Asians for an Asian audience. Asia Times is controlled by Thai media magnate Sondhi Limthongkul.

Asia Times' daily 40,000 circulation is mostly in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, with the first audit due this summer. The Asian Wall Street Journal projects a 6%-7% circulation hike for the first half of 1996, helped by a new print site in Malaysia.

The Asian Journal prides itself on its regional commitment. The paper has been edited in Hong Kong since 1976 and employs 60 journalists in 15 bureaus. "We are operating completely as an Asian regional newspaper," said publisher Will Adamopoulos.

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