The ABC management council is to decide on whether Deccan Chronicle should be issued a certification for its circulation in Chennai.
The Hindu had sought to restrain the ABC from issuing a certificate for the Chennai edition of the Deccan Chronicle, for the period July-December 2005, and thereafter. The Hindu had also claimed interim relief and costs. The motion has been made returnable after eight weeks, and the Bombay High Court has refused to grant ad-interim relief to Kasturi & Sons Ltd, the publishers of The Hindu.
The core issue is the commissions paid by Deccan Chronicle in Chennai to the trade. As per ABC norms, the total trade commission ceiling is reportedly at 40 per cent of the cover price. Deccan Chronicle’s cover price was at Re 1 till very recently (applies to the July-December period; it now sells at Rs 1.50). While Deccan Chronicle claims that the commission is 35 paisa, industry players, including The Hindu, contest this.
Speaking to exchange4media, N Murali, MD, The Hindu, said, “As has been clearly stated in the order, the issue will come up again. Several parties, not just us, have made complaints to the ABC on the issue. After receiving the complaints, ABC ordered three to four surprise checks. The entire trade knows what the commissions paid are, and this is in blatant violation of the ABC norm. If everything is done by fair means, why will anyone go to court?”
In an earlier interaction with exchange4media on the subject of hawker commissions, D Rajamani, Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Newspaper Sellers Association, had stated that Deccan Chronicle paid a 50-paisa commission to hawkers per copy (See link to story dated July 6, 2005 below). An additional 10-paisa commission to dealers is also involved, taking the total to 60 paisa.
Several documents had been furnished in support of these figures to the ABC, including letters from hawker associations, and bills of transaction, said Murali.
Meanwhile, in the July-December 2005 period, The Hindu rose to a circulation of 1,181,500 (ABC), with the circulation in Chennai moving up to 360,322 copies. This marks a jump from 1,061,943 in the January-June 2005 period, and from 343,818 in Chennai. The IRS figures present an even healthier set of figures for The Hindu. Bucking the trend, it rose 4.4 per cent (in Chennai) to claim a readership of 782,000, and claimed an overall readership of 2,797,000. Meanwhile, Deccan Chronicle’s figures are close to 125,000 readers for the Chennai edition, of which 122,000 were in Chennai.
Speaking to exchange4media in September 2005, P K Iyer, ED, Deccan Chronicle Holdings, had stated that the daily had garnered a circulation of 255,000 copies in Chennai on weekdays, and 290,000 on Sundays. Of these, only 23,000 copies were through the ICICI cardholders’ subscription tie-up (annual subscriptions at Rs 99), he had said.
On the numbers, Murali reflected, “What is the readership per copy for any of the English dailies in Chennai? Apply any of the yardsticks of readership per copy – say two or three – and you will see that Deccan Chronicle’s circulation in Chennai is around 40,000 or 50,000 copies.”
ABC informed the Bombay High Court that “all relevant documents would be placed before the ABC council of management, which will then decide whether a certificate should be granted” to Deccan Chronicle for Chennai, for the July-December 2005 period.
“She has given four weeks from April 25 for a reply and a rejoinder, if any, is to be filed within two weeks thereafter. The motion is made returnable after eight weeks,” said a statement issued by Deccan Chronicle, which quotes Justice Mhatre of the Bombay High Court.
If a certification is issued to Deccan Chronicle for July-December 2005, it will be the first for the Chennai edition that was launched on March 28, 2005. If certification is denied on the grounds cited, it raises questions on the publication’s certification for the next six-month period too – the cover price was increased to Rs 1.50 in April 2006.
The Hindu runs into problems with hawkers over commission (July 2005)
Deccan Chronicle eyes Bangalore market, to launch Tiruchi edition in November (September 2005)