The Express Group is launching a Kolkata edition, to supplement the prowess of the Financial Express in the region. The launch is slated within a few weeks. Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express says, "The logistics of the launch had been worked out a long time ago, and we have been busy putting our editorial and infrastructural systems in place. We have worked out our printing costs, quality of paper being used, editorial etc. and we are just waiting for the word 'go.' Distribution wise, we are going to capitalise on Financial Express's stature in the region. The Financial Express has been a major player on the Kolkata newspaper scene, and it enjoys a loyal and significant readership base. With the launch of the new Express edition, we would be supplementing our financial and economy related news, with strong and unbiased political and social reportage."
As for the exact date of the launch of the Kolkata edition, Gupta remains evasive and states that it would take a few weeks. The exact date hasn't been squared on, as yet.
The entry of the new Express edition could spark off a fresh trail of controversy in an otherwise turbulent media landscape. Here's what the Kolkata readership landscape looks like. Among the Bengali-speaking population, Ananda Bazar Patrika undoubtedly leads the list with a readership of 51.18 lakhs. Among the other Bengali dailies, Bartaman comes in next with a readership of 30.76 lakhs followed by Sangbad Partidin with a readership of 14.58 lakhs. Surprisingly in West Bengal, The Times of India, Kolkata has more readership than The Statesman. The Statesman has a readership of 6.2 lakhs as compared to TOI Kolkata's readership of 6.76 lakhs. However in this region, The Telegraph leads the list among English dailies with a readership of 10.24 lakhs. Asian Age, after a spectacular run four years back is leveled with TOI as of now but is shrinking.
Gupta adds, "Growing at about 9.5 per cent in less than a year, Kolkata added one and a quarter lakh gross readers to English dailies. This just goes to show, that a new edition of Express would find a loyal audience base. TOI and HT have for long stuck a claim in this sought-after market among metros. While deciding on this launch, we made sure that we don't let the competition decide our strategy in the region. We just follow our own policy, and take steady steps whether it comes to editorial content or marketing strategy. We already have commitments on the Financial Express in terms of advertiser support and much of that would be extended to the Express edition. No matter what the competition is, the Indian Express stands as a symbol of credibility and unbiased reportage, which is why we would do well in the region."
How important is Kolkata for the Express? Is it a viable proposition in terms of ad revenue? Gupta says, "The people of Kolkata are intelligent, well-informed and they have an appetite for news, more so when it's reliable and comes from the Express stable. Business-wise, we don't really anticipate much of a problem. We feel that we already have a stature in the national market, which would help bring advertiser support in the region. Plus, Financial Express is doing extremely well in terms of ad revenue…we could leverage a lot of that."
In a related move, Gautam Ojha has been appointed as the Head (Marketing and Business Development) for the Indian Express. He would oversee the strategy and evaluation of marketing initiatives, for the group as a whole and would be operating from Mumbai.