Almost decade back, when 24-hour TV news channel boom hit the Indian market, debate on the death of the newspapers had picked up very rapidly. But it was evident later on that television did not overshadow print media altogether.
However, challenges did not end there. The last few years for the print industry have been very critical. Growing Internet penetration in the country drawing away young readers and the economic slowdown have tested the endurance of this traditional media. While reviewing the year gone by, I came across some interesting steps forward. Other than the lay-offs and pay cuts, the print industry saw quite a few international editions coming in India, new product launches, expansion of editions, some product makeovers, and yes, new open-minded I&B Minister Ambika Soni and her positive approach towards the industry.
Beginning of the year 2009 might have been a little frustrating for the industry, but the year ended on a positive note, giving all a chance to look forward to more interesting developments in 2010.
Rollercoaster ride for newspapers continue
With lots of speculations and expectations, the year began with lay-offs and pay cuts for the print fraternity. Where BCCL announced lay-offs, DNA and Outlook declared pay cuts. However, there was some good news too. Chauthi Duniya newspaper was launched and Financial Chronicle hit the newsstands in the Delhi market.
The year also saw the expansion of some of the newspapers. Jagran launched its national edition as well as Pune edition. Hindustan fortified its presence in the Hindi speaking markets with launch of its Allahabad and Bareilly editions. Lokmat launched in Goa, Mint entered Kolkata and Chennai, Navbharat launched its Pune edition. Some regional newspapers also went the expansion way, which included Deshdoot Marathi comig up with its Ahmednagar edition, and Tamil daily Dinakaran hit Delhi newsstands.
To give its readers an exclusive product, few publications partnered with other media groups. Mint partnered with CNBC-TV18, while Hindustan Times announced exclusive content partnership with Washington Post at the end of the year.
Among other developments in newspapers were – Hindustan Times and Dainik Bhaskar underwent design and content makeovers. Mid-Day completed 30 years, while DNA celebrated its 4th anniversary. The Government gave its nod to the Wall Street Journal’s facsimile edition in India.
What was perhaps the icing on the cake was the DB Corp IPO which raised Rs 336-385 crore from the market and gave investors a lot of reasons to smile. The Bhaskar Group also invested Rs 315 crore in its print infrastructure. Jagaran Prakashan registered a 120 per cent jump in its net profit. There was good news for The Times of India’s employees, who got bonuses.
In all, 2009 was a year that brought quite a few ups and downs in the newspaper industry and has made for some interesting watch in 2010.
Cover Story - A saga of new magazine launches
The magazine sector was witness to quite a few new launches in 2009, including a slew of foreign players launching their India editions. Makeovers, too, were the order of the day for some magazines.
In April 2009, Yuva, the youth-centric magazine from E-sense Entertainment Pvt Ltd, and Maheshwar Peri’s Pathfinder Publications’ first title ‘Career’s 360’ were launched. Harper Bazar, Technology Review, Shoes and Accessories Magazine, Food and Nightlife magazine, Esteticaa and Tamil fortnightly ‘Suriya Kathir’ were launched in November 2009. T3 magazine donned a new brand avatar.
International magazines like Spectator, Images Group’s Livingetc from IPC Media and Sports Illustrated forayed into the country.
The trend is expected to continue in 2010 as well, with BBC’s Lonely Planet magazine slated for launch soon.
With the UPA Government scoring an emphatic win in the Lok Sabha elections, the media industry got an open-minded I&B Minister in Ambika Soni. Soni has also given a lot of positive signals to the industry. Earlier in 2009, the Government gave its nod to raise in FDI in facsimile editions of foreign newspapers. The Government also announced customs duty exemption on newsprint.
The year 2009 also bought in the reports of rectification in print research methodology as NRS and IRS are to be merged and new body formed that will comprise members from MRUC and NRSC. With this, the long debate on authentic print media research is likely to end soon.