Rise in newsprint costs, economic slowdown, turmoil in the global financial markets – the year 2008 has not really been one of the best years for the print industry. The resultant shelving of expansion plans, shutting down of some existing editions, cutting down on the number of edit pages, employee retrenchment, and cut in salary packets have all but dampened the New Year spirits for print players.
exchange4media speaks with some leading print players to find out whether there has been anything good about 2008 and what their expectations are from 2009.
Rahul Kansal, COO, Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd, said, “The buzzwords for print industry in 2009, according to me, would be ‘caution’. The year 2009 would be see print players being very cautious. There will be lack of adventurism, which means print players would slow down in launching new editions, experimenting new things, etc. There will be caution in terms of expenditure. And I suspect that only towards the end of 2009 would things begin to change, when we will find new expansion plans, new editions, and growth coming in.”
According to KU Rao, CEO, Diligent Media Corporation Ltd, “There would be four buzzwords for the print industry in 2009. And those are, you have to deliver impeccable edit quality, you’ve got to be a cost efficient organisation, you have to ensure critical mass circulation, and you have to try and recover the cost of circulation.”
Elaborating further, Rao said, “With so many newspapers now available, the quality of edit could be the key driver for readers to pick up your paper. And at this point of time, even the mightiest organisation cannot think that it would be able to build the extra cost and carry on with the business, you have to be the most cost effective business. As far as cost of circulation is concerned, so far the newspaper industry has subsidised the cost of the paper by not picking up the cost through circulation. I think it’s about time the circulation side is very carefully evaluated by respective print companies and at least the cost of newspapers is recovered. This is a must. You just cannot depend on advertising as the only source of revenue. It is important for print companies to come together to make sure that we recover the cost of newsprint from customers rather than trying to recover this only from advertisers.”
Akila Urankar, President, Business Standard, observed, “At this point of time, every sector has got affected due to the global turmoil. Times are very unpredictable. It is very difficult to predict what would be the growth drivers for the print industry in 2009. Most of the print players are taking all possible precautions to sustain their businesses, but for me, the growth drivers would be if I get into some expansion plans, new editions and so on.”
According to Manajit Ghoshal, CEO, Mid-Day Infomedia Ltd, “The buzz words in 2009 would be consolidation and value for money. All businesses, including media businesses, will consolidate their operations instead of expanding aggressively. Also, the concept of value for money will be dominant due to expenditure cuts in all sectors. This will especially be true for advertisement revenue.”
With the economy facing its worst ever crisis in years, various print players are in the process of consolidating their operations instead of expanding aggressively. The million dollar question for the print industry is for how long and how many would be able to fight back effectively in case of a prolonged downturn scenario.