The morning sessions of the Indian Newspaper Congress 2008 saw intense discussions on ‘Are audiences still glued to newspapers?’ and the power of regional newspapers. The day-long Congress was held in the Capital on May 16 and organised by the Indian Newspaper Society in collaboration with exchange4media.
The morning session was divided in two parts. The first session was on ‘Are audiences still glued to newspapers? How do newspapers and news organisations reinvent themselves in the convergence area?’
The chairperson of the panel was UTVi Editor-in-Chief Govindraj Ethiraj, while the panelists incuded Anisha Motwani, Senior VP-Marketing, Max New York Life Insurance; Lynn de Souza, Chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group; Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor, CNN-IBN; Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison Communications; Tariq Ansari, MD, Mid-Day; Tarun Tejpal, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Tehelka; Vinay Chhajlani, CEO, Nai Duniya; and LK Gupta, CMO, LG Electronics.
Opening the session, Govindraj Ethiraj said, “I had visited the Financial Express office in London a year ago. I saw both print and online sitting on same floor. Everyone looked very confused. On being asked why, I got the reply that there was a problem of shifts. The online world needs to be integrated with the print as the web works 24 hours.”
Tariq Ansari pointed out, “India is one of the places where newspaper is growing, like in China, however, newspapers are not exciting enough for youngsters. We have been quite arrogant and we filter a lot of information. The print needs to learn from the FMCGs about identifying our target audience and catering to them.”
According to Sam Balsara, “Print is still the single largest player in the advertising market, with a market share of nearly 48 per cent. The advertising market is growing by 22 per cent. Today, news has become bolder, smaller and more colourful.”
Said Anisha Motwani, “More players have joined the fray in Indian newspapers. There is a product-led strategy, whereas there were times when brand had been extended to a personality. There has to be a sharp differentiation in a brand.”
According to Rajdeep Sardesai, “You have to be a multi media. Every large news organisation has to see itself as news media. We have niche newspapers and channels coming up. The battle is going to be of ideas, talent and innovation. But the major crisis is of content and quality of news. The web is growing, but where are the talented people and visionaries to drive the growth?”
Lynn de Souza pointed out, “Newspaper is a huge industry and contributes to 50 per cent of our billings. But we need to look at quality and content. Whereas earlier time spent with a newspaper was 50 minutes, it has now gone down to 33 minutes.”
Giving an advertiser’s point of view, LK Gupta said, “We decide on an advertising budget every year. And we have to take decisions on how to build our brand, and how to communicate with our target audience. Segmentation is the only way forward for my company. 60 per cent of our budget is spent on the print medium. But there are some publications that do not give me the sharper edge to segment my product in the market.”
For Tarun Tejpal, “Soul of news is not about carrying advertisements, but carrying good social news.” He added, “We are facing two crises – distribution and increasing salary. The pricing of Indian newspapers is ludicrous. It leaves us at the mercy of advertisers. People are not willing to pay more than Rs 2 for a newspaper. Indian media needs to do a great deal of soul searching.”
Vinay Chhajlani pointed out, “We are in the core business of news. There needs to be a fine line separating media and entertainment.”
The second session of the morning discussed the power of regional newspapers. The session was moderated by Bharat Kapadia, CEO and Managing Editor, Jagran 18. The panelists included Ambika Srivastava, CEO, Zenith Optimedia; Amit Chopra, Director, Punjab Kesari; Hemant Malik, Head-Marketing, ITC Ltd; Jayant Mathew, Executive Editor, Malayala Manorama; Kumar Ketkar, Editor, Loksatta; Rajiv Jaitley, President-Marketing and Ad Sales, Dainik Bhaskar Corp; Rishi Darda, Executive Director, Lokmat; and Shravan Garg, Editor, Bhaskar Group.
Opening the session Bharat Kapadia noted, “The reach of English newspaper is 11 per cent. According to IRS, 65 per cent of the print revenue goes to English newspapers. But India is also witnessing tremendous growth of regional newspapers. Then why is the revenue going to the English langauge papers?”
Ambika Srivastava pointed out, “The regional newspaper domain has seen more action than English dailies. We see high level of growth in Indian language press, as in the case of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala, where they have been able to position themselves well through innovation and strong content. I think challenge for the language press is marketing.”
Shravan Garg said, “Language press hasn’t been given the importance it deserves.” While Hemant Malik wondered, “What is the right price for value? There is a huge opportunity to educate the people about regional press, and there has to be a huge initiative for customisation.”
Jayant Mathew felt that it was important for marketers and advertisers to realise that regional press gave more value that English press. However, Darda pointed out that 80 per cent of the ads were in the English media as compared to regional media.
Srivastava wrapped by saying, “There is a huge opportunity in regional that is under-utilised. The regional press is not adequately monetised. That’s a huge opportunity for the advertiser.”