The two-day Indian Magazine Congress commenced in Mumbai on September 6, 2010. Organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), the over arching aim of the event is to understand the loopholes in the functioning of the industry and how to overcome them and finding out ‘What’s the next big thing’ is in magazines.
The day’s proceedings started with a welcome address by Pradeep Gupta, President, AIM, who spoke about how the media industry had bounced back from a challenging time last year and how content was getting delivered to consumers in newer formats. “However, the magazine industry still feels that it does not get its due share and certain issues keep cropping up,” he noted.
Gupta informed the distinguished gathering that next year, they would host the World Magazine Congress and added that this was the first time that this Congress would be held in India and they were expecting delegates from across the world.
Liberalisation of the print media
Delivering the opening address, I&B Secretary Raghu Menon said that the main aim of AIM was to defend the freedom of the press and that the Government would facilitate the growth and expression of such an industry. He added, “The relationship between the Government and the media is complementary. Over the last few years, there have been quite a few measures to ensure liberalisation of the print media. Moreover, foreign direct investment has been allowed.”
“Furthermore, India is the second largest print market, and out of the 62,000 print publications, most are regional publications and a lot of readership growth will come from newspapers and magazines,” Menon pointed out.
A few questions he wanted to be addressed at the IMC included – whether further liberalisation was needed in this industry; what was the future of this industry; and was there unanimity of views in the print media itself; among others. He added that the Government would like to be guided on the way forward by the industry.
Menon also stressed on how the focus of the Congress should be on the future growth of the industry and how the industry should be ahead of the changes, besides the reinvention of the regional magazine players.
Highest growth in regional markets
The inaugural keynote was delivered by Aroon Purie, Chairman, FIPP, and Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India Today Group. He started his speech on a very positive note and said that there was a great future for the magazine industry and even with the introduction of new media, traditional media still had the potential. He shared some numbers and said that for the period between 2005 and 2008, the magazine industry grew by about 14.9 per cent and that there was potential to increase the ad spend revenue.
He continued by saying that the reach of a lot of magazines was limited as a huge number of literate people did not read even one publication. In the last five years, 278 niche magazines had been launched and the fact that cover prices were rising, was a good sign. He further said that even regional magazines were increasing their cover prices, which was a bold step for them as well.
Purie further stressed on the need to have alternate revenue streams such as events, digital media, and so on. He noted that the highest growth would happen in the regional markets.
Nicholas Brett, Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Managing Director, BBC Worldwide Magazines delivered his keynote address on how magazine titles could successfully become global. Brett started off by giving a background of his company, which kicked off with ‘The Radio Times’, which was started way back in 1923. Today, the company is the third biggest magazine publisher in the UK, which sells 171 copies ever minute.
According to Brett, “The three key things for a successful magazine are whether it is global, the frequency of purchase and the integration on all platforms.”
Speaking about ‘Lonely Planet’, which was launched in the UK in 2008, he said that in less than two years, the magazine had over 30,000 active subscribers and had become the No. 1 paid magazine in the UK. He then pointed out some of the reasons for the success of the magazine, which included the importance of a good cover, the importance of adding value, getting the right editorial mix, and creating separate editions for different countries.
‘Lonely Planet’magazine was launched in India in February 2010 and Brett claimed that the magazine already has 72 per cent awareness. He also announced the launch of a new magazine, called ‘BBC Knowledge’, which would be launch in the first week of November 2010 and would be priced at Rs 100.