As many had expected during the opening ceremony on October 10, 2011, the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress opened on an energetic note on October 11, 2011 in Delhi. Aroon Purie, CEO, India Today Group, reminded the delegates the role that India has donned in heralding a new era of growth for the global media industry.
Purie recalled, “When I had joined FIPP in 2000, the Indian media space had not opened up to the world. And the fact that the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress is taking place in India reflects the fact that the Indian media has arrived on the world stage. As I leave FIPP Chairmanship, I am a happy man.”
Where newspapers are shutting down in most parts of the world, in India, there are 16 English newspapers in a city like Delhi alone. “This is not possible anywhere else in the world,” said Purie. There are 58,100 magazines registered in India and regional publishing is still under tapped here. The size of the population and the current demographics added with the fact that the literacy rate in India is still at 73 per cent added to the advantages and signs of future growth for India.
At the same time, Purie pointed out that India had the uniqueness of straddling different eras at the same time. Where the so-called traditional media was still growing at healthy rate, digital media is also making its place. Where internet in India was seeing its share of growth, the mobile story in India has caught the world’s attention. At present, India has a mobile subscriber base of 850 million handsets, and this number growing at 10 million more handsets in a month. Of this, smart phones are claiming 25 per cent of the pie. India is Facebook's third largest market.
“But past these numbers, there is growing aspiration and collective energy in India,” stated Purie. And the magazine industry is also experiencing the impact of collective energy.
The magazine business is seeing challenges and opportunities, and while challenges were never this sharper, the opportunities also were never this aplenty. The industry has been able to demolish myths and partner new realities. “For most part, the magazine industry is copy well with these challenges and in parts better than newspapers. The digital disruption was once seen as something that would derail us but each day we choose to see it as digital delight. Digital has become a rejuvenation injection for magazine,” said Purie.
Technology offers a palette of opportunity for the industry according to Purie, and he said that both engineers and ‘imagineers’ were need to be both to make a success of any enterprise. He observed, “Technology has been the saviour and the challenge for magazine publishers. Today there is a distinct possibility of monetising the digital space.” Purie also spoke on how tablets were changing the magazine industry and also played a key role in enabling a 360-degree publishing environment.
Purie cautioned that even magazine publishers were well placed to handle challenges, there were no silver bullets or one-size-fits-all anymore. “We should not look for one new business model, because it does not exist. We have to see deduct and work on potential revenue streams.” He confessed that magazines were facing the challenge of being stuck in between a place where they had to take steps to grow the business and invest in future revenue streams.
And the agenda for the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress was to table all these aspects that impacted the magazine business. “It is an iconic event and the reason of the first Congress 86 years back in Paris is the same as today, which to meet face-to-face and understand what is happening elsewhere in this industry. The 38th Congress comes at the right time, and at the right place.”
Quoting FIPP President & CEO Chris Llwellyn, that World Magazine Congress was an opportunity to shake hands across the globe, Purie said, “There is no better time than now to shake hands with India.”