Gujarati dailies have seen competition on price wars and free gifts to such an extent that none of the players could really ask for ABC certification. The situation reached such a point in May 2005 that the ABC issued a circular delisting key players like Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh.
Now Divya Bhaskar has managed to secure itself ABC certification. The paper had applied for ABC certification earlier in the year to gauge its circulation, January 2006 onwards. Divya Bhaskar was launched from the Ahmedabad market in 2003 and this is the first time it has been certified from the ABC.
The ABC certifies any daily on an edition wise basis. Looking at some of the numbers here, for the January-June 2006 period – Ahmedabad has a net paid sales (NPS) of 489,861, Vadodara has an NPS figure of 172,065, Surat is at 177,028 and Rajkot has been certified for 35,447.
Divya Bhaskar’s Executive Director, Bharat Kapadia, is happy with the numbers, stating that Rajkot being a satellite edition, the numbers were justified. More than that, however, he is happy with the certificate itself. He said, “We are the only leading Gujarati daily that has ABC certification, and we know that the certification matters.”
Explaining further on this, he said, “The fact that you are ABC certified in itself is a vindication that there are some things that you are following in a more strict way than competition and the reader still has preferred you – that shows the reader’s faith in the paper. Secondly, there are advertisers who do not endorse non-ABC products. With this, we will be able to rope in such advertisers in the paper.”
Why hadn’t they applied for ABC certification earlier? Kapadia replied, “When we entered the Gujarat market, some competitive tactics in the market were such that ABC norms couldn’t be observed. To sustain ourselves, we too had to have some such schemes ourselves that the ABC doesn’t allow. We understand the role ABC plays in print and we have just consolidated our position in Gujarat. It made sense to get certified as well.” Kapadia admitted that the paper had tempered down some of its trade tactics to gain the ABC certification.
The publication is looking forward to the National Readership Survey (NRS) numbers now. As is known, in the last NRS, Divya Bhaskar had a readership of 53 lakh.
In the circular sent out in May 2005, the editions of Gujarat Samachar in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat, Sandesh in Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda, Gujarat Mitra and Gujarat Darpan in Surat were taken off ABC. Under the guidelines, a publication loses its membership if it is either not awarded an audit certificate for three consecutive years or hasn't submitted circulation data for two consecutive audit periods. Following this, the publication can apply for re-entry, but will have to go through admission audits.