“It’s an irony that a country that boasts a population of more than 100 crore, only 3 per cent can speak English. And there are only 200 English papers out of total 2,000 papers in the domestic market”, noted popular anchor and journalist of CNBC Awaaz, Sanjay Pugalia, who moderated the session titled ‘Resurgence of language media’.
This session explored the dynamics, growth and the future potential of the language media -- both print and audio-visual, across the country. Eminent speakers in the panel included Sanjay Gupta, CEO and editor, Dainik Jagran; Virendra Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director, Matrubhumi; Nitin Vaidya, Director of regional channels of Zee TV; Kumar Ketkar, the editor of Loksatta and Rajiv Jaitly, President of Bhaskar Group.
The session kicked off with Sanjay Gupta’s speech who said that the scenario of language media has changed after the country woke up to the economic boom in the early nineties. “New metros like Bangalore and Hyderabad came up. English as a language led the media sector forward. But soon marketers realized the sales challenges and thus were forced to explore the regional media angle, leading to the development of the vernacular press and television.”
Gupta quoted from an interesting report by Ernst and Young titled ‘The Dhoni Effect’ that said that the hinterland had started to grow. The report explains how contrary to earlier domination of players from the metros, players like Dhoni emerged and changed the perception of rural hinterland. This represents the growth of the tier II and tier III towns. “Advertising thus started to happen in regional language to reach the TG in these towns and has led the growth of the local media.”
This opinion was seconded by the CEO and Managing Director of Matrubhoomi as he said, “Top advertisers are realizing that if they advertise in local media, it sells. Almost, 82 per cent of the advertising revenue in Kerala comes from regional media. Similarly, for newspapers, advertisement is the main source of income and profit.”
Kumar Ketkar, the editor of Loksatta, further stressed on the importance of regional media as he said, “A citizen is influenced by the local media. When there is strike in a company, the company official feels that the employees would understand the language better.”
“The metros are the gateway to the growth. The markets in tier I and tier II cities were always there. And to go to the customer in that region, marketers have to talk to them in their language. Lots of electronic media has thus changed from pure English to pure Hindi,” said Rajiv Jaitly. He further said, “In places like Gujarat and Rajasthan, there is phenomenal growth and the regional media play a very important role in reaching out to the regional audiences.”
The discussion went ahead and the fact that regional media has really come a long way and has become a profitable business for the advertisers and marketers was clearly established. “According to a general perception few years back, the country was divided into two markets, namely the Hindi speaking market and the south India market. But the last couple of years have seen vernacular media clocking ad revenues of Rs 1,500 crore upwards. West Bengal and Maharashtra have emerged to become two strong markets,” said director of regional channels of Zee TV, Nitin Vaidya.
Notably, three years back there were only three Marathi channels, currently, the number is six with a further 12 channels expected to come up by the year end. The numbers surely reflect the power and domination of regional media.