The Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) 2007 commenced in Mumbai on October 8 with Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Priyaranjan Dasmunsi addressing a key note on the developing trend of the magazine business in India. This was followed by an interactive session that saw various delegates raising questions on the procedural and bureaucratic delays in terms of registration, ministerial approvals and other legal requisites.
Referring to the 26 per cent FDI ceiling that the Government has directed as of now, Dasmunsi said, “We have a team in the I&B Ministry that is looking after this. If there is a winter, then spring cannot be far behind.” He asked the captains of publishing companies to be patient and that all policy reforms would take place by the end of January 2008.
Dasmunsi also informed that the Ministry was planning to have two separate divisions under the RNI, which would handle the national and international registrations separately, thereby reducing administrative and procedural delays. The Minister also said that those titles that had been registered and were not performing would be considered obsolete and would be destroyed.
In his address prior to the interactive session, Dasmunsi lauded the progress made by the Indian magazine domain, particularly the language periodicals that have shown impressive figures in both revenue and readership. According to him, the expansion of literacy had led to the growth of total manpower, resulting into more media companies entering the business. He pointed out that among periodicals, Hindi magazines had topped in the list of language magazine publications. “Hindi magazines are doing well, but this doesn’t mean English magazines and newspapers are lagging behind. On an overall basis, the Indian press has flourished after Independence, and it will definitely open up further in coming years,” explained Dasmunsi.
Talking about the growth of media and magazines as a genre, Dasmunsi stressed on the need to have more players in the industry, and not just a few companies or publications controlling the market. “Why should there be less players? Rather, there should be a number of publications in the market. But while we ensure this, we also have to ensure the quality of the new entrants,” he maintained.
While the Minister spoke about having more publications, there were talks about the Government putting several restrictions on new ventures and tie-ups in India. Commenting on this, the Minister explained, “A new player is sometimes confused about protecting himself from competition, lacking both in ability and focus. It would, therefore, be fair if the Government was left alone to decide on who should enter the market and what area of business should be allocated to whoever is entering.”
(With inputs from Abhijeet Mukherjee)