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TOI and HT shake hands in Delhi; plan JV for a common ‘compact’

22-September-2006
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TOI and HT shake hands in Delhi; plan JV for a common ‘compact’

In the dog-eat-dog Delhi print market, who would believe that bitter arch-rivals are all set to shake hands? When The Times of India and Hindustan Times joined hands in Mumbai for advertising and use of printing facility, it did raise a few eyebrows. But a bigger surprise from the two traditional foes is in store. Informed sources have divulged that the two media conglomerates are joining hands up a joint venture.

The even more tantalising information is that the JV will bring out a product that will be common to both the newspapers in Delhi. The first product expected from the venture is a morning ‘compact’ paper for Delhi – titles being toyed with are ‘Delhi Post’ and ‘The Metropolis’.

Interestingly, the sources informed that the plans to launch ‘Delhi Mirror’ – on the lines of ‘Mumbai Mirror’ in Mombai -- have been shelved. Kamlesh Singh, who was hired as Editor for the proposed Delhi Mirror will now concentrate on the new product.

“The Metro rail network is developing very rapidly in Delhi and so a format like a compact would click,” the source said.

While the only clear detail at present is that both TOI and HT would set up this third ‘company’, the equity holding of the two is not known yet. TOI and HT officials refused to offer any comments. A source also said that there would be more clarity on the matter in three weeks’ time.

That the proposal is moving full-steam ahead is clear from the fact that Sameer Kapoor, one of the latest entrants in the Bennett Coleman and Co stable, has been hired to head the venture as President or CEO. Prior to this, Kapoor was with Scholastic India as Managing Director. Further details on his role and designation weren’t available.

While officials in both TOI and HT are choosing to be very quiet, market sources say that the joint initiative by the two media behemoths of Delhi are aimed at staving off competition from likely new entrants in the daily newspaper segment. There is strong speculation that the India Today Group is mulling the possibility of launching a morning paper and DNA continues to be a candidate for the Delhi market.

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