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Ifra India 2007: Of the Internet, mobile phones and the good old newspaper

07-September-2007
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Ifra India 2007: Of the Internet, mobile phones and the good old newspaper

The three-day Ifra India 2007 conference came to an end on September 6 in Chennai. While Jim Chisholm, Joint Principal, iMedia, France, in his closing address pooh-poohed the threat to the newspaper industry from the Internet, it remains a fact that the digital inroads being made into the newspaper space will result in a major shift in the way media is consumed in India.

According to Chisholm, there was no correlation whatsoever between the Internet and circulation of newspapers. He said, “We keep blaming the Internet for the declining circulation of newspaper in the West, but there is nothing anywhere that statistically says that it’s true. I personally do not believe that the Internet is to be blamed for the declining circulation. There are lots of others factors that are affecting the circulation and the Internet cannot be blamed.”

Chisholm further said that growth of mobile phones in India was absolutely staggering. “In future, we are going to see a complete change in the way people consume media digitally. The Internet will continue to grow, but what will happen is that mobile phones will take on the Internet and people will switch over to mobile phones for accessing information, as one can access information on mobile phones regardless of where he or she is. That is going to bring a dramatic change in the way the media will be consumed,” he pointed out.

The other speaker of the closing session, Manfred Werfel, Research Director & Deputy CEO, IFRA, Germany, shared the outcome of Ifra’s futuristic research project, which looked at the ways societies shaped the future of newspaper and usage habits. The research focused on saturated markets such as North America, Europe and Japan and the emerging and developing markets in Asia and South America.

Werfel said that the research looked into the future by questioning how media usage would change in the coming years. “We are not talking about how the newspaper will change, but we are speaking about how our customers will change. And how their needs will be different,” he said.

“The new age of media and communication will bring more news on more channels, but also news of less value. That is the big problem for the user. The user has to find his way through a jungle of information,” Werfel said, adding he foresaw more restrictions on advertisements, especially for tobacco, alcohol products and unhealthy food.

Earlier in the day, Dr Dietmar Schantin, Director, Ifra Newsplex, spoke on ‘Cross Media Advertising’ while Chris Kubas, Vice-President, Kubas Consultants, Canada, spoke on how ‘Modular Advertising Can Revitalise A Newspaper’s Business Model’.

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