Bhaskar Group is planning to launch three editions of its Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar in Punjab – Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. These new editions will be launched in September 2006 and complete the Punjab loop following Dainik Bhaskar’s foray into Chandigarh and Haryana in 2000.
Girish Agrawal, Director, Bhaskar Group, said, “Contrary to popular belief, Punjab is not a Punjabi language state and people in Punjab mostly read Hindi. Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana are the three main cities in Punjab and our new editions in these cities will also feed the neighbouring small towns and cities. In fact, Dainik Bhaskar’s Amritsar edition will be the first Hindi newspaper in the city.”
The Bhaskar Group is investing Rs 90 crore for starting these new editions, of which 40 per cent will be used for fixed assets while the rest will be used as running costs. When asked about Punjab Kesari, which is a direct competition for Dainik Bhaskar in Punjab, Agrawal replied, “No market is a cakewalk. As an entrepreneur, one has to be prepared, focus on value addition and move forward.”
He added, “We are not entering Punjab based on what competitors are doing. It is far more important to look at the market and its needs. We have seen a gap in Punjab’s Hindi newspaper market and our new editions will fill this gap.”
The Bhaskar Group is currently carrying out an extensive pre-launch research with representatives visiting almost five lakh houses in Punjab to get a better understanding of the readers’ demands. Agrawal said, “We want to offer more than what TV news offers and this survey will help us offer the best to our readers. This is particularly important as Punjab, like the rest of India, is not a homogeneous market.”
Commenting on the proliferation of the print media, Agrawal said, “Print medium medium will continue to grow. As for Bhaskar Group, we crossed the language barrier three years back and now mainly focus on and cater to market needs.”
He added, “Marketing strategies work in raising awareness about a product, but content is the soul of a newspaper.”
Commenting on Bhaskar Group’s expansion plans, Agrawal said that they expected to start operations of 17 FM station by March 2007 (as is known, Bhaskar’s Jaipur station is already operational). Though the Bhaskar Group is now concentrating on starting these new editions, Agrawal said that he also considered Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir as interesting markets for Hindi newspapers.