Views>Dialogue Report a problem
 
Don’t forget television also hikes its rates. In our industry, every time there is an increase in production cost, the entire burden shifts to the advertiser. We don’t pass on any burden to the reader. It is unfair to push the entire burden on the advertiser, who is waking up to the fact and asking ‘why should we be the whole subsidiser to your cost?’ and that’s a bit of a problem.

Hormusji Nusserwanji Cama, Director, Bombay Samachar & INS President

The Indian print industry is agog with excitement over India being selected as the next destination for the WAN Congress and Forum, which will be held in Hyderabad in March 2009.

exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha caught up with three key members of the Indian Newspaper Society – Hormusji N Cama, Bahubali S Shah and Pratap Govindrao Pawar – and spoke to them about the way ahead for the Indian print industry amid rising newsprint cost, economic slowdown and of course, the agenda for WAN Congress 2009.

   
 
Hormusji Nusserwanji Cama, Director, Bombay Samachar, was elected President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) for a second term in September 2008. He is also Chairman of the Press Council of India, and was recently re-nominated for a second term. Cama also serves as Chairman of the Indian Section of the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU). He has also been President of Indian Language Newspapers Association (ILNA) for one term.
   
Q.

In your second term as INS President what are the three things that top your agenda and why?

A.

I will give you the three things, but not necessarily in order of precedence. First is the WAN Conference. This is the first time an international conference of this size is coming to India. That’s the highest priority and the reason is that we can showcase India and Indian publishers. Second priority is Wage Board. Our industry is now the only industry to have a Government-appointed panel to decide on salaries. We strongly object to that and are going to do everything so that Wage Board is demolished. Third priority is the perceived threat from electronic media. We are losing readers and advertisers to television. Although is not as bad as it was few years ago, we lost a lot of advertising to TV, which is now coming back. We are seeing a reversal from TV to print. And to a great extent, I must give credit to previous committees, where we have instituted something called Project Press, which is aimed at enlightening readers and advertisers on why we should advertise in print along with TV. We are not saying don’t go to TV, but saying don’t forget print.

Q.

Besides the rise in newsprint costs and a general economic slowdown, what are the major challenges before the newspaper industry today?

A.

It is a very broad question. There is a general shortage of qualified staff, which is faced by every industry. We don’t have sufficient media training institutes to train journalists. We have a problem of mid-level journalists, which is a major downfall for the print industry.

Q.

In response to the hike in newsprint cost, print publications – both magazines and newspapers – are revising their ad rates. Do you see advertisers shifting to other media as a result of this?

A.

Not as a result of the hike in ad rates. Don’t forget television also hikes their rates. In our industry, every time there is an increase in production cost, the entire burden shifts to the advertiser. We don’t pass on any burden to the reader. For instance, you go to get your shoes polished. The guy takes three minutes to polish your shoes and we pay him Rs 5-7 or even Rs 10. The reader will not pay you the same Rs 5 for a newspaper. Isn’t that wrong? It is unfair to push the entire burden on the advertiser, who is waking up to the fact and asking ‘why should we be the whole subsidiser to your cost?’ and that’s a bit of a problem.

Q.

How much would the latest developments impact the ad-edit ratio in newspapers?

A.

The ad-edit ratio is poor, in the sense that a normal newspaper doesn’t make a normal 25-30 paise on ads. In the last six months, due to a general slowdown in the economy, there has been a slight jolt, but nothing earth shattering.

Q.

What is the latest status on resolving the issue of ad rates offered by DAVP?

A.

As of yesterday, DAVP announced the increase of 24 per cent effective from September 1, 2008, but that’s not enough. They are also going to set up a rate structure committee. I have my own reservations, because a lot of smaller and medium newspapers depend on Government advertisers, and some large newspapers take away a large chunk of these advertisers. When the rate goes up, who is the main beneficiary? It is not the smaller and medium newspapers, but the larger newspapers.

So, although we all think we have done a great job by getting an increase, unless we get a proportional increase in the DAVP budget that is going to happen due to this ad hoc increase, the smaller newspapers are going to be hit. Their volumes will go down and the larger newspapers will benefit all the way.

Q.

Do you see e-editions of newspapers as a threat or an opportunity?

A.

I see e-newspapers as an opportunity. The day is not far when newspapers will be on mobile. It’s an opportunity for those who look at it as an opportunity, and I feel sorry for those who look it as a threat. It’s an opportunity for the Indian publishers.

Q.

What steps do newspapers need to take in order to be relevant to the net-savvy GenNext?

A.

E-editions on the Net are more interactive pages and that is what we are doing to attract GenNext. Everyone is looking at interactive newspapers. We want the paper to talk to our readers, chat with them, and that is what publishers are doing now. They are encouraging readers to chat on various topics of interest.

Q.

Recently, TRAI had released a paper on Media Ownership, which said that at present, there are no cross-media ownership restrictions for the domestic print media companies and they can expand to other media verticals. What are your views on it?

A.

Of course, why should there be any restriction on any industry? It is a very senseless restriction if they choose to bring it in and we will oppose it. If there’s a cross media ownership, why should TRAI have a problem? If TRAI has a problem we will then have a problem with TRAI. What is wrong with cross media ownership?

Q.

This may sound somewhat clichéd, but how does the Indian print industry compare with the global print industry today?

A.

I think we are doing well. Our numbers are increasing compared to the West, where there is a certain stagnation setting in. We are growing because literacy rates are going up and, thanks to modern techniques, our reach of latest spectrum of readers is much more than what it was 30 years ago. The whole population is booming. We are optimistic about the future and we have an edge over others. Globally, there is a little bit of pessimism, but Indian publishers are by and large very optimistic about the industry.

 

Bahubali S Shah
MD & Editor
Gujarat Samachar

Email:
bahubalishah@gujaratsamachar.com

Bahubali S Shah, Managing Director of Lok Prakashan Ltd, a leading business house with interests in publishing, finance and investment, real estate, etc. Its flagship publication is Gujarat Samachar.

A Commerce graduate, Shah began his career in the newspaper industry way back in 1971 as Editor of children's weekly 'Zagmag' and 'Shreerang', a monthly digest of Gujarat Samachar. In 1975, he started the Surat edition of Gujarat Samachar and donned the role of Editor, becoming the Managing Director in 1979. He is also a successful entrepreneur looking after interests in various companies where he holds responsibilities as Chairman and Director.

He was INS President for the period 2007-08 and has been associated with INS for over two decades. A multi-faceted personality, Shah takes a keen interest in various other spheres of life and is actively involved with various clubs in Ahmedabad.

Q.

As the immediate past President of INS, what were your major achievements/ initiatives for the newspaper industry?

A.

The INS was given firm allotment and possession of the land, and as of now, the payment has been made, registration procedure has been completed. The excavations will soon be completed and construction of the building will soon begin. The acceptance of Hyderabad and INS as the venue and host for the first ever WAN Congress to be held in March 2009 by the WAN Board, the first ever Indian Newspaper Congress held in collaboration with exchange4Media, which was a great success, are some of the major achievements. During my tenure, several other initiatives were undertaken to repair and renovate the INS building, new software and hardware for the Monthly Review Verification (MRV) were introduced, a new task force of Executive Committee members was created to coordinate with MRUC and NRS to ensure more meaningful readership surveys.

Q.

Do you think INS is still playing an effective role in the advancement of the Indian newspaper industry and taking up its cause with the Union Government?

A.

Oh yes. The INS is very relevant as it monitors the payment of the agencies to the publications, which is the main source of revenue. Accreditation is granted and continuously reviewed by INS. The society’s membership is about 750 members. Besides, the INS also takes up the cause of the press in general when there is an infringement on Freedom of Press. This year, when IPL had announced stringent terms, thereby putting restrictions on coverage and copyright over photographs and articles covering the 20-20 matches, the INS challenged this attempt, assisted by the Editors Guild and news media coalition, and finally IPL agreed to modify the terms to the satisfaction of INS. It goes on to prove that India is a democratic country and Free Press is prevalent, and INS is also partially responsible for this.

This year we have witnessed an unprecedented hike in newsprint prices and we made representations to the Government to reduce the customs duty, which was brought down to 3 per cent. We also made representations to increase the DAVP rates by 30 per cent, however, just towards the end of my tenure there was request from the Ministry to accept 24 per cent instead of 30 per cent, and accordingly, INS wrote a letter to the Ministry and just last week the Government announced a 24 per cent increase in DAVP rates. Similarly, on the Wage Board issue also INS has taken a strong stand.

Q.

Are there any tasks that you had taken up but had to leave unfinished during your tenure as INS President?

A.

Some tasks are of ongoing nature… and they will continue to be carried out. However, it will not be out of place to state that I’ve had a very satisfying year.

Q.

Do you see any synergy between the objectives of the newspaper industry and the magazine segment represented by AIM?

A.

AIM was started by a few members in 2003. They are all members of INS also… however, they probably wanted another forum and thus formed AIM. I really don’t see the necessity for a separate body as magazines are also part of INS and advertisement is a major source of revenue for them, too, which is being monitored by INS.

 

Pratap Govindrao Pawar
MD & Managing Editor
Sakal Papers Ltd

Email: pgp@esakal.com

 

Appointed to the Board of Directors of World Association of Newspapers (WAN) as INS’ India representative in June 2007, Pratap Govindrao Pawar was appointed to the Executive Committee of WAN as a member on January 2007.

Pawar is Managing Director and Managing Editor of Sakal Papers Ltd, and Chairman of Ajay Metachem Group of industries. He is also Director of various companies in India and abroad – Bharat Forge Ltd, Finolex Cables Ltd, Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd, Force Motors Ltd, Pune, and Pan Gulf Group Ltd, UK.

He is former President of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries & Agriculture, Pune; first President of the Federation of Chambers and Associations all over Maharashtra; INS President for the period 2001-02; President of Indian Language Newspapers Association for the period 2005-06.

Sakal under Pawar’s leadership has achieved substantial growth and total modernisation. It started a weekly called ‘Saptahik Sakal’ in October 1987, which attracts readers from abroad too. Besides Pune, Sakal’s independent editions are published from Mumbai, Kolhapur, Nasik, Aurangabad, Solapur, Nagpur and Jalgaon.

Q.

It is the first time that India will be hosting the prestigeous WAN Congress and Forum. What does it really mean for the Indian newspaper industry?

A.

It’s a great honour for the INS and also for our country as it is happening for the first time in 62 years of WAN’s existence. This is also a recognition by world media owners, publishers, and editors of India as a progressive country and the media, in particular.

Q.

What was the process by which the WAN Congress was decided to be brought to India?

A.

One has to bid for such a Congress and India got unanimous support over 2-3 other countries.

Q.

What is the agenda for the WAN Congress being held in Hyderabad in 2009?

A.

The theme for WAN Congress 2009 is ‘What is the future of journalism?’ and will focus on the essential work of newsrooms.

Q.

What is your expectation from the Congress and Forum?

A.

We want to market India to the world. The Forum will address media barons and editors from all five continents about our overall progress, culture, traditions, unity in diversity, etc.

Q.

Could you give us an idea of the number of international delegates and Indian delegates likely to attend the WAN Congress in Hyderabad?

A.

We are expecting about 1,500 to 1,600 foreign delegates and about 400 to 600 Indian delegates at WAN Congress 2009.

Send your comments to Hormusji Nusserwanji Cama
© exchange4media 2007                                                                  Post your Opinion
Home | About US | The Team | Contact US | In Press | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Our Tour & Travel Operator | Articles | E-book | Press Releases | SMS Push | Site Map
Access exchange4media.com on your mobile www.exchange4media.mobi
 
This site is best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 & above at 1024 X 768 resolution.
Copyright © : 2010 Adsert Web Solutions Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India. All rights reserved.
Hosted by