SLB Media & Entertainment (P) Ltd is set to enter the English newspaper space with ‘The Common India’. The paper is set for launch in the next few months and will be priced at Rs 5. The daily will have approximately 18-22 pages, of which eight will be all-colour pages and the rest in black and white.
SLB Media will initially start with four editions from Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Kolkata (West Bengal) and Patna (Bihar). The initial print run of the newspaper is expected to be 25,000 copies. The group is aiming to expand its circulation to 2 lakh copies within a year.
It may be recalled that SLB Media had launched an Oriya daily, ‘Sarbasadharana’, on February 8, 2011. The paper had an initial print run of 20,000 copies in Orissa.
Speaking on the need for an English newspaper, Bairi Ganjan Dash, Chief Editor, Oriya daily ‘Sarbasadharana’, said, “Historically, Kolkata was an important station for the people of Orissa. Every movement from the state to the rest of the country happened via Kolkata. But in terms of connectivity, Orissa is no more a well off state now. Therefore, we felt that there is a need for an Orissa-based publication to have an edition that the locals can reckon with.”
He further said that in view of the development and industrialisation taking place in the state, which was resulting in the young population staying back in the state, there was need for a state grown daily that understood the needs of youngsters.
Dash also emphasised that though there were quite a few English dailies being published from the state, they were not providing enough local news coverage. “Through English daily ‘The Common India’, SLB Media plans to reach out to the young, educated and well informed people of the state. The group also aims to cater to youngsters who are not originally from the state but are residing there for work and want to know more about Orissa,” he added.
As far as circulation and distribution strategy is concerned, the group plans to have a strong and effective network for the new daily. In coastal Orissa, the group has a dedicated network that distributes only SLB products along with ‘Sarbasadharana’. In these places, the group will tie up with the existing team. In the rest of Orissa, where the group shares its agents with other publications, it will create a new dedicated set of agents and representatives.
The new English daily will face some stiff competition from the national biggies in the Orissa market. The Times of India has reported an Average Issue Readership (AIR) of 186,000 as per recent IRS numbers. The New Indian Express has an AIR of 124,000, while The Hindu has registered an AIR of 28,000 – all three are strong competitors. The other English dailies present in the state include, The Telegraph, Hindustan Times, and The Statesman, among others.
For the record, the SLB Group of Companies started off in 2005 as a third-party distribution company with six branches across Orissa.