Following the launch of its Dehradun edition in September 2007, English daily The Pioneer is geared up for a Ranchi edition. The new edition is expected to hit newsstands by the middle of December. The Pioneer Group has signed an MoU with Ranchi-based industrial house Swastik Group to function as its local franchisee.
The edition would primarily cater to readers in Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Bokaro in addition to Ranchi. The Ranchi edition would be the Group’s eighth edition after Delhi, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal and Kochi.
The Ranchi edition would have at least four pages of local news, which would be prepared in Delhi and then transmitted to Ranchi for printing. There would be at least six pages in colour. At least As per the MoU, the franchisee partner would have to take care of the staff, printing, circulation, marketing, advertising and buying of newsprint. There would be sharing of royalty between The Pioneer Group and Swastik Group in addition to the revenue sharing depending on circulation as agreed upon in the MoU.
“All the pages would be made in Delhi as is the case with other editions. There is a special desk for each edition that also takes care to provide space for local ads. As far as the content is concerned, it would be completely filtered. It is the editorial desk that decides on the content. We also check the professional qualifications of the reporters, who are recruited in consultation with us. So far we haven’t had any conflict of interest,” said Chandan Mitra, Editor, The Pioneer.
Mitra felt that the new edition would help the Group to add to its national size in terms of numbers. The Group is eyeing a circulation of around 20,000 for its Ranchi edition. “I feel Ranchi genuinely needs an English national daily because the Hindi newspapers there are very local while the English newspapers try to imitate them. The Telegraph cannot be called a national daily because it is more popular in the East. There is a good market and still a lot of space,” he added.
Mitra further said, “Bulk of our readers is thinking people like academicians, bureaucrats and those in the corporate sector. We do have plans to make the content more youthful and draw a substantial number of younger readers. We need to change our business page and the sports pages as well.”
Speaking on The Pioneer’s expansion plans, Mitra said, “I have many plans in mind, but financial resources is the only hindrance. I would like to go to the Hyderabad and Ahmedabad markets, where I see a good market for the newspaper. I am also interested in venturing into the Hindi space with a quality Hindi daily, which I would definitely do in the future. But again, Hindi is purely a circulation game and one needs the resources.”
The company also has plans to revamp its website in the coming six months, which claims to have a major chunk of the surfers in the US and UK.
“The last five years have been years of survival, the next five years would be time to consolidate, and the five years after that would be the years of growth. So far, we had been defensive, but now on we would be more aggressive in our marketing strategy,” added Mitra.