Regional newspapers drive growth for print media in India: I Venkat, Director, Eenadu
While the mainline print media is facing an existential crisis over the emergence of digital media, developments in the regional space paint a different picture.
With the rise of local economy, the regional news space has grown phenomenally over the years. According to I&B ministry, the print industry in India witnessed growth of 5.13 per cent in 2015-16, with 110, 851 registered publications. While Hindi newspapers are overtaking the advertising-rich English language papers in terms of readership numbers, the vernacular press has broadly evolved to become the backbone of the industry.
According to I Venkat, Director, Eenadu, the regional press is scripting a new high for the print media industry. âIf you look at the growth of the regional press, it has been very promising over the years. Take the example of Eenadu; we have grown to become the leading newspaper in the states of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana. This has also encouraged us to start more editions. I would say the regional newspapers are undoubtedly driving the growth story for print media,â he says.
Even the report released by the central government last year highlights the robust growth of the regional press. Underlining the growing importance of the vernacular newspapers, former I&B Minster M. Venkaiah Naidu has gone on record to say, âRegional-language newspapers are easier to understand. We will ensure that regional newspapers claim highest circulation in the coming years.â
It is important to mention that among the language papers, Anandabazar Patrika, Malayala Manorama, Daily Thanti, Eenadu, Lokmat, Gujarat Samachar, Sakal and Sandesh are amongst the most widely read and continue to dominate the regional space.
Though print, especially the vernacular dailies, might be witnessing robust growth in terms of readership and revenue, many wonder if print would eventually keep pace with the speed of digital news. According to veteran journalist Som Nath Sapru, the enduring strength of newspapers is local coverage. In his analysis of the growth story of Indian newspapers, Sapru mentions, âThe reality is that metro city newspapers have more âfeet on the groundâ than competing news websites. Of late, newspaper managers are translating their local strength onto their websites as well.â
Speaking about the future of the print industry and the growth plan for Eenadu, Venkat adds, âAs far as the future plan for Eenadu is concerned, we are focusing on our key markets which are AP and Telangana and we have no expansions plans for now. Overall the print industry in India will continue to witness positive growth and there is no threat to it unlike the story in the west.â
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