The year 2013 started with a row between two of the major publishing houses –Bennett, Coleman & Co’s Times Publishing House (TPH) and UK-based Pearson-owned daily Financial Times. Both the parties locked horns over the right to the title of ‘Financial Times’ in Supreme Court.
IRS shows readership slide continues
Seven out of 10 Hindi magazines continued to decline, while language dailies showed some growth in different regions. English magazines witnessed the worst quarter, whereas Hindi and English dailies showed mix performance.
Print players were expecting the new IRS version in December, but it has got delayed. Though Nielsen and MRUC promised error free, transparent and large sample data to the print players this year, the latest readership numbers are yet to be released even though the pilot study took off in March 2013, while the field was work initiated in May 2013.
End game for many titles
The Times of India’s decision to shut down its elite weekly supplement ‘Crest’ surprised readers and industry experts alike.
The Outlook Group also decided to close down its international titles – ‘People’, ‘Geo’ and ‘Marie Claire’. This decision was a wake-up call to magazine owners as the industry has been bleeding in terms of revenues.
Major players such as The Times of India, Dainik Jagran and The Hindu admitted that the Rupee depreciation had significantly impacted their revenues. The fall of the Rupee also led to some of the smaller magazines to shutdown their operations, while others hiked their cover price to survive.
Mergers & Acquisitions
The print industry saw no major announcements of merger or acquisition during 2013. The news of Delhi Press acquiring Business Standard Motoring and the sale of BusinessWorld magazine by the ABP Group, however, made it to the headlines.
During 2012, two major print players were actively negotiating to buy Amar Ujala in an attempt to get a foothold in the Hindi print market. Though the buy-out didn’t materialise in 2013, the industry saw an unexpected attempt by Rajul Maheshwari and his family, founders and promoters of Amar Ujala, to buy back 14 per cent of the company’s stake from the Agarwal family.
The year also experienced some controversial appointments and resignations. Some of the leading print editors resigned from their respective organisations to join social media companies.
In March 2013, Dainik Jagran confirmed the resignation of its MD & CEO, Manajit Ghoshal from the English tabloid, Mid Day.
Even as the magazine industry was already reeling under the shock of closures and price hikes, the management at Forbes India took a surprise decision by asking four of its top editorial hats – Editor Indrajit Gupta, Managing Editor Charles Assisi, Executive Editor Shishir Prasad and Director of Photography Dinesh Krishnan to leave.
Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express announced his decision to relinquish his charge as CEO of The Indian Express Group in an internal mail to the employees. The year also saw Chaitanya Kalbag stepping down as Editor of Business Today.
The year 2013 also witnessed some controversial resignations. In October, Siddharth Varadarajan tweeted his resignation over a row with the management of the English daily The Hindu. Following his footsteps, MK Venu, Executive Editor, The Hindu, also turned to Twitter to announce his resignation, citing the same reasons as Vardarajan’s. The Hindu also lost its CEO Arun Anant in the same week.
Hartosh Singh Bal, Political Editor, Open Magazine, too, chose Twitter to tender his resignationin the second week of November.
But perhaps the most shocking incident not just in print media, but the entire journalism profession was Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal being accused of sexual misconduct by one of his junior female colleagues. Tejpal subsequently announced his decision to “recuse” himself from his duties as Editor of the magazine for six months as “atonement” for the incident. He is currently in police custody. The mishandling of the entire incident also cost Shoma Chaudhary her position as Managing Editor of Tehelka.