Hyderabad-based newspaper Vaarttha has come up with three new editions taking its total in Andhra Pradesh to 19 editions. As per Gireesh Sanghi, Chairman and MD, Vaarttha, this brings them at par with Eenadu in terms of the number of editions. Interestingly, the paper’s expansion plans don’t end here. By May 2004, the group will publish four metro editions and come July, the much spoken-about Telugu news channel will hit the tube.
The three new editions cover the districts of Guntur, Srikakulam and Tadepalligudam in Andhra Pradesh. With this, the paper has 19 dedicated issues in the 23 districts of AP. “We would have loved to have 23 editions for all the districts but the geographical locations of the other four districts are such that the Hyderabad issue caters to their needs,” says K R K Prasad, CEO, Vaarttha.
According to Prasad, Vaarttha has invested Rs 15 crore to get the three editions in place. “Our presence in Andhra Pradesh will be stronger now and, the circulation will increase by at least 30,000. We expect each edition to give us a boost of 10,000,” he says. Vaarttha’s latest IRS and NRS figures are at 50.83 and 50.55 lakh readership respectively. Due to a few issues, it does not figure in the Audit Bureau of Circulation list but this will change in post-December 2004.
Sanghi explains that the paper has already finalised the details to float the metro editions. He says, “We are going to have editions in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai. All the necessities are in place and the fieldwork is done but we are still giving it another month. These editions too are in Telugu.”
While print is Vaarttha’s passion, Sanghi informs that presently the adrenalin rush is around the news channel. The free-to-air channel is in Telugu and goes live by July 2004. He says, “Some details are finalised, some are being finalised, and others are still being formulated. There is a lot of work happening and our efforts are concentrated on every detail to ensure a smooth launch.”
On how does it differ from competitors like ETV2, he divulges, “I would not consider ETV2 as competition simply because there is substantial difference in our editorial policies. Ours is a more people oriented channel.” ETV2 also makes a similar claim.
Does Sanghi think that there is enough space for two Telugu news channels? He replies, “The Telugu audience is massive. It is the second largest language after Hindi. This populace is affluent and there is a wide internationally settled Telugu audience as well. So yes, there definitely are many consumers for Telugu media.”
There will be definite increase in Telugu media products once these initiatives are in place. Needless to say, other players too will accentuate their offering adding more heat in the Telugu market. “The aim is to ensure that every morning the Telugu reader or viewer gets the right news. There is a demand and we are catering to it,” declares Sanghi.