Erstwhile Chitralekha Publisher Bharat Kapadia has joined the Bhaskar Group from March 5 as Executive Director. He would be reporting directly to the board, and would oversee the circulation, distribution, marketing and ad sales of Divya Bhaskar.
Said Kapadia, "So far I have only dealt with weeklies, and it was getting to be a repetition of sorts. A daily is a far different ball game and is a whole new challenge, which is why I am looking forward to it. I am going to oversee all the operations of the Divya Bhaskar brand, which include ad sales, marketing, distribution, etc. Divya Bhaskar has made quite a dent in the market already, and has a much bigger canvas today. As for the group as a whole, it's an exciting and dynamic group. I feel right at home here."
At present, Divya Bhaskar has three main editions -- Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda. The Baroda edition was launched on September 11, 2004 with an initial print run of 2.5 lakh copies. In addition, after the publication acquired Saurashtra Samachar in a Rs 7-crore deal, its requirement to cover Bhavnagar and the Saurashtra region was met. The publication also spent an additional Rs 3-4 crore on revamping the infrastructure and printing machines of Saurashtra Samachar.
Apart from these, the publication has 17 district editions -- Gandhinagar, Anand, Nadiad, Mehsana, Himmatnagar, Palanpur, Patan, Surendranagar, Surat, Valsad, Vapi, Navsari, Panchmahal, Dahod, Bharuch, Narmada and Amreli. In addition, a Rajkot edition has been launched as well.
As Kapadia put it, "This business is all about moving on to new and better things. And as Executive Director of the Bhaskar Group, I know that I have made the right decision."
Meanwhile, what happens to Chitralekha? The credit list of the recent edition displays Gyanesh Maharav as Editor of Chitralekha, while Kapadia's brother-in-law Maulik Kotak has now been appointed as Publisher. The reins of English magazine G, in addition to Jee Gujarati and Chitralekha (Marathi and Gujarati) have been passed on to Maulik Kotak. Ankur, the company floated by Kapadia, is no longer selling space in these publications. The complete ad sales mandate is being serviced internally.
Kotak when contacted was very tightlipped about the developments and only had this to offer, "He (Bharat Kapadia) is no longer at the helm of things. We would not be able share any other information about this. I am now in charge of the day to day affairs of Chitralekha's current portfolio." Kotak is evasive about why the change in administration has occurred.
Coming back to the Bhaskar Group, a report by Ernst and Young (E&Y) states that the net paid sales of Divya Bhaskar is around 11.31 lakh copies in Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda. E&Y had carried out a test on the processes followed by the management in calculating the circulation figure, and subsequently certified it. The Saurashtra Samachar sells around 42,375 copies from Bhavnagar (ABC Jan-June '03). As per IRS Round 2, 2003-04, the total readership of Divya Bhaskar in Gujarat is 22.15 lakhs. Of this readership, 10.11 lakh comes from Ahmedabad.