The second session of the two-day International Newspapers Marketing Association (INMA) conference brought to fore the fact that JVs in Indian media companies were helpful to both partners, and that getting global partners was a good tool for value proposition. The conference was to introduce INMA to India, and at the same time, to project India to rest of the world.
During the session ‘Growing Profitability through Joint Ventures’, Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media Ltd, and Sanjay Gupta, CEO and Editor, Dainik Jagran, agreed that joint ventures had been a marriage of convenience in India. Verma, however, stressed that before making global collaboration, it was always important to make local friends and to wait for the right kind of tide to swim across safely.
It may be recalled that HT Media has tied up with Wall Street Journal for its business daily Mint; with Virgin Radio for its radio venture Fever 104 FM; and with Kellogg Business School as a knowledge partner. Dainik Jagran has tied up with the UK’s Independent News and Media (INM) as its strategic partner.
Explaining his point with the illustration of HT Media, Verma said, “Over-dependence on print, limited financial capability and subscale distribution system have been some of the obstacles for diversification in print. To solve the problem, segmentation and clear positioning of products is required. It is a globally accepted phenomenon now, especially in the West, that newspapers, Internet, radio and television are expected to available for free. The reality is that consumer is the king, and if he demands newspapers for free, we have to make such provisions. But we have to develop ways to sustain ourselves in the competitive world.”
Verma added that the major factors that differentiated the newspaper industry from the other media industries were its high cost of entry, the time and funds required for brand building, a challenging consumer mindset that media can be available for free, and high operational and talent costs.
“Hindi space has not yet been exploited by media-buying companies. I would say that Hindi newspapers are blessed in India. Changing habits, literacy rates and national news channels have provided the required space for Hindi newspapers to grow, which now have a tremendous future because they would target local content. I do not see newspapers dying in India, as it is seen in the West. The print industry would certainly stay for another four decades,” said Gupta.