The media market in Jammu and Kashmir for long has been neglected by newspapers from outside. Until last year, the state was not even covered by IRS. However, with two leading national Hindi dailies planning to set up shop in J&K, there is renewed interest in the media market in the state.
NP Sathyamurthy, Director General, MRUC, which conducts the IRS survey, said, “We always knew it was a potential market but didn’t think it was congenial. However, with improvement in the political situation, we ventured into the area. And the survey clearly indicates the tremendous opportunity this region can provide for publications.”
According to IRS 2005 R1 figures of four main publications in J&K, Amar Ujala clearly dominates the market with a readership of 100,000 followed by Punjab Kesari with 50,000, Daily Excelsior (English) with 38,000 and Dainik Jagran with 32,000.
So far, editions for the J&K were being printed out of Jalandhar and a lot of time was lost in transporting. Though Dainik Jagran will soon have the first-mover advantage of publishing from the state, the competition is set to become intense with Amar Ujala also planning to enter the market.
Dainik Jagran is setting up full-fledged operations in Jammu by July this year. “It has been a neglected market so far but as we launch our office in Jammu, things will change. We will be printing out of the state, focusing on local content. Through content we aim to reflect the hopes and aspirations of the local people, in addition to bridging the gap between J&K and the rest of the world,” said Sanjay Gupta, CEO and Editor, Jagran Group.
Amar Ujala is not far behind. Said Varun Kohli, General Manager, Amar Ujala, “The Jammu market is booming and is on a par with Jalandhar and Chandigarh today. Categories such as tourism, automobiles, etc., are growing. Also, our research has shown that it is more of a Hindi market than English. Very soon we too shall be printing out of the state itself.”
Kohli further said, “It has become a very prosperous market and we aim to take full advantage of it. We have been in the Jammu market for five years now and have a strong foothold there. Our USP is that we changed the local pages along with the main paper itself.”
Added Shashi Shekhar, Group Editor, Amar Ujala, “We had forayed into the J&K market keeping in mind the nine core local issues - business market, law and order and crime, service class, education, health, transport, telecommunication, electricity, traffic. We tailor the content to the needs of the reader.”
On the strategy to counter competition, Gupta of Jagran said, “On the marketing front, we had been docile but are now gearing up for an aggressive strategy. Even the perception of advertisers is changing. We want to give a fresh perspective and are not worried about competition. Content and language format is the main issue and we will change by using Urdu and Dogri words.”
Considering the efforts going into studying the preferences of readers in J&K, it can be deduced that the market is attracting national publications. What remains to be seen is how many foray into the state and how many survive.