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Guest Column: Regional media content to play a crucial role in digitization of India: Rishi Darda, Lokmat Media

09-February-2017
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Guest Column: Regional media content to play a crucial role in digitization of India: Rishi Darda, Lokmat Media

India is amongst the fastest growing digital economies in the world today. 13.3 per cent of worldwide Internet users are from India. While India’s Internet user base of 461.12 million is next to China’s 721.43 million (52.2 per cent of total population), during the last 12 months India registered a growth of 30.5 per cent versus China’s 2.2 per cent.

According to a recent NASSCOM-Akmai Technologies report (Aug’16), India will continue to remain the fastest growing Internet market and predicts 730 million Internet users in India by 2020. It also estimates that 75 per cent of new Internet users are going to be from rural India and also 75 per cent of new Internet users to consume data in local languages. 

99.9 per cent of the internet is in languages which 90 per cent of Indians don’t understand. Currently, over 50 percent of internet using audience are Non-English speaking. Of the overall content generated online, a dismal 0.1 per cent of it is in Hindi, which occupies pride of place as the fourth largest spoken language in the world. Currently 45 per cent of online users consume regional language content and this percentage is expected to increase with the growth of internet users. Indians already prefer their newspapers, magazines, television shows and movies in local languages. It is not going to be easy for them to switch to English just for the Internet.

The readership of vernacular dailies is over five times higher than that of English dailies. Around 54 per cent of total readers read a vernacular daily, 41 per cent read a Hindi daily and only 9 per cent an English daily. There are around 93 million people who read any of the Vernacular language daily. This is 76 million more than those who read any of the English language daily, a readership of around 16 million.

For example, UC Browser in India has approximately 100 million monthly active users of which 60-65 per cent have opted for Hindi as their preferred choice of language. Hence, no surprises why UC Browser launched a Hindi news app very recently in India.

Hence, it is evident that going forward local languages and regional media content will tend to play a very crucial role in the digitalization of the country on the whole. More users will mean more advertising in regional. 

Their digital shift can be witnessed on two counts: The first involves a shift towards using the digital in the process of sourcing and publishing news. Workflow is managed by advanced content management systems, news articles contain multimedia and interactivity that require technical expertise, and the web and social media are increasingly becoming a reliable source of primary and secondary information for journalists. Second, publishing for digital comes with its own challenges. Distribution and consumption of news is increasingly being carried out on digital platforms, fostering a culture of interdependence that impacts news providers in previously unforeseen ways. 

Lokmat Media is on a journey to create the largest hyperlocal media hub for regional news and information services. Every reporter is trained by online editorial team to create and share local news including videos. Secondly, provide access to on ground reporters to ingest content including stories directly in a unified cloud based content & digital asset management system. While the content gets ingested digitally first, it’s ready for distribution across multi-media platform including print. All editions and sub-editions, including special features are also available as e-papers optimized for web and mobile view. 

It is impossible to build a “Digital India” without changing the language of the internet. And Digitization of Regional Media is an imperative towards achieving this dream.

(The author is Joint Managing Director and Editorial, Lokmat Media)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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