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B V Rao, Ajay Singh to assist R Jagannathan at Firstpost

In a bid to strengthen its editorial team, Firstpost has appointed B V Rao (Editor) and Ajay Singh (Executive Editor) to assist R Jagannathan, Editor-in-Chief of Firstpost and Forbes India, confirm sources

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Published: Aug 20, 2015 6:21 PM  | 1 min read
B V Rao, Ajay Singh to assist R Jagannathan at Firstpost

In a bid to strengthen its editorial team, Firstpost has appointed BV Rao (Editor) and Ajay Singh (Executive Editor) to assist R Jagannathan, Editor-in-Chief of Firstpost and Forbes India, confirm sources.

Rao began his career with Delhi Mid-Day in 1989, where he worked till 1991, before moving on to The Indian Express Bangalore, where he worked from 1991-94 as News Editor. Rao had three stints with The Express Group in Mumbai as well as Ahmedabad. In 1994, he joined Free Press Journal as Executive Editor and worked there for two years. He had also worked for The Times of India as Deputy Resident Editor for around a year. He was with the India Today Group for three years, and DNA Mumbai for a year as Associate Editor. BV Rao has also served as an Editor, Governance Now in the past, as well as served as News and Communication Director at Reliance.

Singh leverages close to 25 years of experience with stints at Times of India, Economic Times, Telegraph, The Pioneer, Business Standard, Star News, Newsx, Eeenadu TV, Sahara Samay and Governance Now.

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Volumes continuously recovering but pricing still a challenge: Piyush Gupta, HT Media

Gupta, Group CFO, HT Media, said the company's operating revenue rose 10% to Rs 344 cr

By exchange4media Staff | Nov 18, 2022 8:44 AM   |   4 min read

HT Media

HT Media’s newsprint prices in the current quarter have averaged around Rs 66,000 per metric ton as against the same period last year, which was about Rs 42,000, Group CFO Piyush Gupta said during the Q2FY23 earnings call. Moreover, the Print ad revenue stood at Rs 269 crores at a 9% increase and on a sequential basis a 12% growth, he said.

Gupta further said that the circulation revenue was at Rs 61 crores, an increase of more than 21%. The growth was fuelled by both print order and realization per copy, and on a sequential basis, which was a 2% growth, said Gupta during the earnings call. Consequently, the company's operating revenue rose 10% to Rs 344 crores, and operating EBITDA stood at Rs 14 crores in the current quarter, with a -4% margin.

Speaking about the Group’s English business, which covers HT Media and Mint, Gupta shared that in Q2 FY23, the ad revenue stood at Rs 147 crores, which is a 10% rise on YoY basis and a 16% increase on a sequential basis. While the circulation revenue saw a rise of 118% on a y-o-y basis at Rs 15 crores, there was a rise of 19% on a sequential basis.

On the Hindi business, Gupta said that the ad revenue stood at Rs 122 crores, which is a 7% increase on a y-o-y basis, and an 8% increase on a sequential basis. Meanwhile, the circulation revenue was up 7% at Rs 47 crores on a y-o-y basis and a flattish to -2% decline on a sequential basis.

Talking about radio, Gupta said that there has been a considerable 36% y-o-y growth with revenue coming at Rs 33 crores versus Rs 24 crores same period last year. The operating EBITDA margin came into the positive territory of 3%. Meanwhile, digital has been flat, at -4% y-o-y with Rs 33 crores coming down to Rs 32 crores this quarter and operating EBITDA was marginally negative at Rs -2 crores with a -5% margin.

When asked about the losses that the group has incurred over a couple of quarters, Gupta shared that the losses are primarily for two reasons. “If you look at the EBITDA movement versus the same period last year, one is the elevated newsprint prices. Newsprint prices in the current quarter have averaged around Rs 66,000 per metric ton as against the same period last year was about Rs 42,000. So, you can see that's about a 50% increase in newsprint prices. That's purely the pricing delta. And in terms of rupee crore, that is a cost hit of about Rs 57 crores, which has gone into the P&L.”

He further said that the prices have already topped out and it's believed that after plateauing for some time, they would start coming down. “As you know, newsprint is a cyclical commodity. And I believe they are already hitting the peak at about USD 850-890 a metric ton”, he added.

Gupta also mentioned that in terms of dollars, the prices will come close to about USD 700 in the next couple of quarters. “Now, of course, as you would understand, the currency itself is a bit of a wildcard at this point in time because there's a 10% depreciation in the rupee. So, we will save about 25-30% in terms of dollar prices, but 10% of that will go away in the currency. I personally, therefore, believe looking at our inventory situation and where the newsprint prices are heading, that in the next couple of quarters, we would come out of the red, which is primarily because of the newsprint cost and the margins will therefore start improving”, he added.

Speaking on the revenue, Gupta also said that the volumes have been continuously recovering for the last two quarters, after some respite from the pandemic. However, pricing still remains a challenge. “So, the volumes are back to about 80-90%. In some markets of Hindi, they are actually above the pre-COVID level also. But pricing still is a big challenge, whereby market by market, we are anywhere between 70-90% of the pre-COVID prices.”

When asked if the group expects to surpass pre-COVID levels due to the widespread adoption of digital media, Gupta stated that the migration to digital or new-age media has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not a new phenomenon. “That has been happening for many, many years as more and more people adapt to new forms of media. As a result, we have a fairly robust Digital business, which is undergoing those changes.”

Gupta expressed hope and said they will be easily able to come to a very profitable situation. ”We don't speculate on the forward-looking forecast but suffice to say that the mere impact of the newsprint prices reverting back to media itself will have a very robust impact on the bottom line. And with pricing correcting in the marketplace, which is a factor of demand and supply, I think we can easily cross the pre-COVID levels without any questions.”

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Former Prabhat Khabar MD K K Goenka joins Dainik Bhaskar as COO, Bihar & Jharkhand

Goenka quit Prabhat Khabar in September this year after a three decade long association

By Ruhail Amin | Nov 17, 2022 10:05 PM   |   1 min read

KK Goenka

Prabhat Khabar’s former Managing Director K K Goenka has joined Dainik Bhaskar as COO , Bihar and Jharkhand.

Sources have confirmed this development to e4m.

In September this year, Goenka quit Prabhat Khabar after being associated with the group for over three decades. His association with the group started in 1989 and he has been witness to a fascinating and very challenging journey from only 500 copies per day to 650000 copies per day, and having taken on three big dailies head on.

Post his resignation from Prabhat Khabar Goenka had written that  he felt proud of his long association with the newspaper and considered himself  fortunate to have played a role in bringing this organisation to its present level.

“I am grateful to each and every person who supported us during this most difficult journey as a reader, advertiser, hawker  and well wisher . I am thankful to the management for giving us the support to run the company freely. I am grateful to each and every member of the Prabhat Khabar family from top to bottom for being so nice to me. You have always stood by me in the most difficult time. I will miss each one of you. Wish all of you a great time ahead”, he had stated in his resignation letter.

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Britannia consolidated sales grows 22% YoY, market share reaches 15-year high

The company registered Rs 4,338 crore in consolidated sales with profit from operations at Rs 660 crore

By exchange4media Staff | Nov 7, 2022 10:41 AM   |   2 min read

britannia

Britannia Industries Ltd. (BIL) reported Consolidated Sales of Rs. 4,338 Crores growing at 22% & Profit from Operations at Rs 660 Crores growing at 30% for the quarter.

Commenting on the performance, Varun Berry, Managing Director, said: “We have witnessed positive growth momentum over the last few months. Our Go-to-market strategy & increase in distribution reach have converged to deliver a robust topline growth of 22% YoY & 19% QoQ, aided by mid-single-digit volume growth, as we record our highest quarterly revenue. We continue to have aggressive market share gains, consistently over the past 38 quarters & registers a 15-year high, which is a testimony of our Brand strength & team’s execution capability. Our direct distribution jumped to 26 lakhs outlets, with an addition of 4 lakhs outlets in the last 6 months. We continue to make strides in our Rural journey and we now have appointed ~28,000 Rural Preferred Dealers, which has led to consistent market share gains.

We supported our strong brands with the requisite media investments in the digital & mass media space. It was a quarter of consolidation where we supported our newly launched products eg. Treat Croissant, NC Seeds & Herbs, Biscafe, Potazos, 50-50 Golmaal, Marble cake & Rs 5 Muffils across geographies & channels. Some of our new launches have done extremely well & continue to grow aggressively quarter on quarter.

On the cost & profitability front, commodity inflation remained on the boil on the back of rising inflation in Flour & Milk products. In this dynamic environment, as a result of our pricing actions and intensified cost efficiency program, we have been able to improve our operating margins beyond pre-covid levels.

On the sustainability front, I am delighted to share that the latest DJSI score has seen an improvement from 37 to 52 and we now sit in the 91st percentile of companies in this sector. We stay committed to our ESG framework of People, Growth, Governance and Resources and shall continue to focus on our initiatives to build a Sustainable Profitable business.”

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Jagran's Q2 consolidated revenue up 13% to Rs 454.16 crore

Print ad revenue increased 10% to Rs 254 crore from Rs 232 crore

By exchange4media Staff | Nov 5, 2022 10:10 AM   |   2 min read

jagran

Jagran Prakashan Limited (JPL) has reported a 12.8% increase in its consolidated revenue for Q2 at Rs 454.16 crore from Rs 402.53 crore in the same quarter of the previous fiscal. Consolidated advertisement revenue from print, digital, and radio was up 10.4% to Rs 317.69 crore from Rs 287.73 crore.

Print ad revenue increased 10% to Rs 254 crore from Rs 232 crore. Circulation revenue increased by 5.4% to Rs 92.62 crore from Rs 87.83 crore. Revenue from the radio business increased 16% to Rs 48.6 crore from Rs 42 crore.

The company's digital revenue grew 14.4% to Rs 20.77 crore from Rs 18.15 crore. Revenue from the outdoor and events business increased 79% to Rs 35.3 crore from Rs 19.7 crore. Other operating revenue jumped 63% to Rs 43.86 crore from Rs 26.97 crore.

Expenses jumped 22% to Rs 368 crore from Rs 301 crore due to a steep increase in newsprint prices. Operating profit dropped 15% to Rs 86 crore from Rs 101.37 crore. Net profit dropped 17% to Rs 50.62 crores as against Rs 60.89 crores.

Commenting on the performance of the company, JPL CMD Mahendra Mohan Gupta said, “The newspaper publishers are bearing the brunt of a steep increase in newsprint prices on the one hand and on the other hand advertisement revenue is taking more than expected time to reach pre-pandemic level. However, the Company registered double-digit growth in revenues on the strength of its brands and strong market position but fell short of desired profits owning to an exceptional increase in cost despite continued cost control measures. I am glad to add that all businesses Print, Radio, Outdoor, Event, and Digital posted growth in revenues and some of them have exceeded the pre-pandemic revenues.

"Our focus on digital continues and therefore the business is gaining in strength New offerings with an additional focus on generating video content and partnering with international operators to add to our Group’s capabilities are part of digital strategy for future growth. Radio registered double-digit growth in revenue and maintained its profitability. Integration of Digital and Radio and innovative solution-based offerings will remain focus areas to drive growth. Outdoor and Event businesses delivered exceptional growth in revenue and profit. These two businesses and Digital are generating revenues higher than pre-pandemic times."

Gupta also noted that the Board has recommended the buyback of equity shares aggregating Rs 345 crore for shareholders’ approval, in line with our policy of rewarding shareholders. "I would also like to reiterate that we remain committed to doing our best in the interest of all the stakeholders and reward them as always and we expect your support in our endeavours as hitherto.”

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ABC figures show decline in newspaper circulation; industry calls it 'artificial drop'

The audit, which was conducted for the January-June 2022 period after a gap of two years, showed a decline of 20-30% in the circulation figures

By Sonam Saini & Nilanjana Basu | Nov 2, 2022 9:19 AM   |   5 min read

newspaper

The newspaper industry believes that the drop in circulation numbers reflected in the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) data for the January-June 2022 period is “artificial” and not “perpetual” as many newspapers either did not participate in the process or excluded most of their editions.

The ABC recently conducted the audit for the January-June 2022 period. The audit, which was conducted after a gap of two years, showed a decline of 20-30% in the circulation figures.

According to Hormuzd Masani, Secretary General of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, it is unfair to compare the two different time periods and conclude that the circulation figures of the publications decreased. “This decline is artificial. Those are different periods and time zones," explained Masani.

Furthermore, he shared that many publications did not submit their circulation figures, which was the cause behind the decline. “We offered all publications a voluntary submission period from January- June 22. So many of them submitted while others did not. As a result, there is a decline, albeit an artificial decline." This was the first time that ABC offered opt-in and opt-out options to publishers because they certified figures after two years.  

“It's only valid for one period, it's not perpetuity. So for the next period, most of them and all of them should be filing for July-December 22 and that would be the right figures to see the long-term trend. One can't conclude that print publications have gone down. Some of the topline publications did not submit their figures at all.”  

The ABC data, accessed by exchange4media, shows that some national Hindi and English newspapers didn’t include all of their editions. For instance, HT Media only listed three editions for Hindustan Times, Lucknow, Patna and Ranchi. The Hindu didn’t list any edition for the audit. Similarly, Lokmat listed only Akola editions for both its Hindi and Marathi newspapers. Only some publishers, like Punjab Kesari, Malayala Manorama and Anandabazar Patrika, listed all their editions. 

While speaking to exchange4media, Dhruba Mukherjee, CEO, ABP shared that during the lockdowns, newspaper circulation was hit initially due to supply side issues. “Though the supply side issues got sorted out over a period of time, extended lockdowns saw sales at outdoor stalls and institutions getting affected.

Also, there was an underlying fear amongst a small section of the society that Covid virus may get transmitted through physical newspapers, making them stay away from it.”

“All of this affected newspaper circulation by 30-50% in the initial months. After a prolonged recovery cycle, this has now stabilised to about 10-20% loss. A part of it (maybe 10-15%) will never come back as media consumption habits have changed for a few over these two years, but the rest will,” Mukherjee added.

According to Mukherjee, every newspaper is working on content, pricing and marketing strategies to take their circulation to the pre-Covid levels. Given India’s vast population and increasing literacy levels, the opportunity is large, and backed by the unputdownable trust factor that print media still enjoys over all other forms of media, there is optimism on the trajectory, he shared.

“We got our regional daily Anandabazar Patrika (all editions) audited in the Jan-Jun 2022 period. We intend to get both our regional and English newspapers audited in the Jul-Dec period,” informed Mukherjee.  

Similarly, Amit Chopra, Joint Managing Director, Punjab Kesari, shared that they listed all their editions for the audit. “However, the current audit figures show a decline in circulation numbers. After Covid there was a fear among people and hence they stopped buying newspapers for a while and the circulation for every publisher came down to 40-50%.”

“Subsequently, there has been a recovery of up to 85% in many places. But the recovery has stopped at 85%. Even if you look at the average, it will show a similar trend. Lot of people have just moved to digital and we don't know if they are coming back. All newspapers are really trying hard to bring them back by introducing new schemes and more, but will see the results in five- six months.” 

Chopra also mentioned that the ABC data is very important because there were no certified numbers in the last two years. “Advertisers know what happened during Covid and this data gives a clear picture.”

Print publishing went through very difficult times during 2020 and 2021 in terms of distribution and advertising, said Varghese Chandy, Vice President, Marketing and Advertising, Malayala Manorama. The publication also listed all its editions for the audit. 

Chandy added that though the situation has improved this year, newsprint availability and prices have now become a new challenge for the industry. “With this in mind, and the fact that the base year for the comparison has been taken as Jul-Dec 2019, it is quite natural to see a drop.”

He informed that publications in Kerala had the least drop in circulation across India. It showed less than a 14% drop. “We were fortunate to have the support of the government which ensured that our distribution network remained intact and had also assured the public that newspapers were least likely carriers of the virus. Along with advertising, we are now seeing a revival in our circulation as well and are moving towards our pre-Covid numbers.”

According to Chandy, circulation numbers are important to assess the strength of different publications and in the absence of IRS, ABC becomes an even more important currency for advertisers. “Internally, we are striving hard to reach the 2019 circulation numbers and should be able to reach our target in the next couple of months.”

The publishers made the decision to exclude their various editions from the audit due to the pandemic's impact on circulation numbers.

"We excluded some of our editions from ABC reporting for the period Jan-June 2022 because the numbers were low," said a senior executive of a national Hindi daily.

The last audit was conducted in 2019 for the period July- December. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Newsprint prices should see a correction of around 12-15%: Girish Agarwal, DB Corp

At the Q2FY23 earnings conference call, Agarwal, Non-Executive Director, DB Corp, shared that the impact of correction should be visible from the Q4 of FY23

By exchange4media Staff | Oct 31, 2022 9:13 AM   |   4 min read

DB

The economic recovery in India is continuing, and this quarter, aided by the festive season, has been exceptionally good, said DB Corp Ltd Non-Executive Director Girish Agarwal stated during the Q2FY23 earnings conference call.

“We have been able to deliver very robust results, very strong Q-o-Q as well as the Y-o-Y performances across all segments. We are hopeful that at this pace, the industry will continue from where it left off in fiscal 2020, before Covid,” said Agarwal.  

He also talked about the softening of newsprint prices. “Based on the current domestic and international market visibility and engagements with newsprint suppliers, we believe that the newsprint prices should see a correction of around 12% to 15% both in India and outside going forward. The impact of the same should be visible from the Q4 of FY2023 in our numbers and we expect this to continue.” 

Speaking on the group’s financial performance and cost optimization, Agarwal said that their singular focus has been to ensure that the various cost-cutting measures are long lasting. “While we are working towards increasing our revenue base, we have also managed to save approximately 10% in the operating costs vis a vis Q2 of FY2020. Resultantly, the print business EBITDA margin of Q2 FY2023 stood strong at 21% despite the high newsprint prices.”

Talking about the newsprint prices for the last four quarters, he shared that in Q3 of FY2021-22, the purchase cost for the newsprint was roughly around Rs. 47,000 per tonne which in the Q4, but went up straight away to Rs. 53,000 per tonne. “Then in the Q1 of FY2022-FY2023, this number went up straight away to almost Rs. 66,000, and then in Q2 it is hovering around the same price of Rs. 65,500. But looks like, from Q4, the prices will go down around 10% to 15%. So we are expecting that from Rs. 65,000-Rs 66,000, the prices will go down below Rs.60,000 and furthermore in the Q4 and there on,” he mentioned.

While speaking to the analysts about advertising, Agarwal shared his perspective of all the categories. “In terms of education, if I compare the Q2 with the pre-Covid times, then we are on a growth, strong double-digit growth. In terms of government advertising, we are on a decline. In response category classifieds, we are on a double-digit growth. In real estate again, there is a very strong double-digit growth. Automobile is one area where we are down by almost 50% compared to the pre-Covid level. This is because automobile companies are facing supply issues for the last two years and so they are not coming up with new launches.”

He further added, “In FMCG also, there was a decline of around 15%-18%. Jewelry has seen a very strong, almost 100%, compared to the pre-Covid level. Hospitals, clinics, and healthcare are all growing. Lifestyle is another category which is at 24% decline on a pre-Covid number. Once the suppky issues of the automobile sector are sorted, this decline should turn into the growth. That will be a big upside for us as well."

Meanwhile, Pawan Agarwal, Deputy Managing Director, DB Corp, highlighted the key financial performance of half year and the quarter ended September 30, 2022, followed by key operational updates. 

He said that the past quarter witnessed robust growth in advertising, with many hitherto muted segments like consumer durables returning to the fold in a big way. “If you recollect, we had indicated that a strong trend of resurgence in print is being witnessed where advertisers, both large and small, are considering print to be a more trustworthy and effective medium for utilizing their advertising spends. As India's largest print media company, our editorial strength has undoubtedly helped our performance this quarter.”

Talking about the digital business, he shared that the company has been steadily growing its loyal monthly active user base across all its apps with increase of around eight times from 2 million in January 2020 to more than 15 million in August 2022, which can be attributed to our focus on ensuring high quality content with a bespoke and highly personalized product experience. 

“This, we believe, has helped proper Dainik Bhaskar Group in becoming the dominant digital leader with number one Hindi and Gujarati news app player. With the dominance already established in the print format and now in the digital format, we are undoubtedly the number one phygital Indian language newspaper in the country.” 

On the radio division, he mentioned that MY FM content continues to connect with audiences and augment listener engagement activities through innovative content creation. “This has helped us get better ad rates and we are hopeful of further improving this in the forthcoming quarters.” 

 

 

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Print: Ad volumes on the rise, more for English dailies

As per TAM AdEx data, while ad volume for English newspapers climbed 17% in 2022 compared to 2021, it grew 4% for Hindi publications

By Sonam Saini | Oct 28, 2022 9:12 AM   |   4 min read

print

After a two-year lull, the ad volume growth for the print industry is finally reaching the normal levels. Ad volumes in both English and Hindi dailies have been on the rise since 2021. Also, the circulation numbers too are returning to the pre-Covid levels and the ad revenue figures are rising for most of the publications. 

As per TAM AdEx data, ad volume climbed 14% for English dailies in 2022 compared to the pre-Covid period and 17% compared to 2021, while it declined 7% for Hindi dailies in 2022 compared to the pre-Covid level and increased by 4% compared to 2021.

While the ad volumes for both English and Hindi dailies are showing growth, English newspapers have witnessed higher growth than the Hindi ones. Industry insiders say the discrepancy between the two is mostly attributable to the substantial volume recovery seen in English dailies, as well as the fact that key advertisers in Hindi dailies are retailers and local advertisers who haven't recovered fully yet.

According to Subramanian S, Senior Vice President, Times Group, the disparity between the two is primarily due to the strong volume recovery seen in English dailies during the first six months. 

On a category level, he shared that telecom, consumer durables, BFSI, e-commerce and political ads lead the pack. The top 15 English publications have grown 16% compared to FY '20 and 44% compared to FY '22, he mentioned. 

Subramanian S further explained that the Hindi readership is mainly focused on rural/small-city markets where the impact of Covid-19 was less severe than in English markets, leaving less room for recovery. “Furthermore, language markets are heavily reliant on categories such as retail, automobiles, education, and pharmaceuticals, all of which have seen volume decreases when compared to FY '20. English papers, on the other hand, are buoyed by strong sales in categories such as real estate, e-commerce, consumer durables, and telecom,” he said. 

Expressing similar views, sector leaders further say that while advertising volumes for Hindi dailies may not be growing at the same rate as English dailies, it is important that they are growing, and the industry is optimistic that Hindi dailies too saw a strong growth in both volumes and revenues during the festive season.

Amit Chopra, Joint Managing Director, Punjab Kesari, claimed that vernacular newspapers have actually witnessed greater recovery in advertising volumes than the English dailies. He mentioned that his point of view is based on the data from his organization. Though he declined to share the data, Chopra said that the newspaper industry is witnessing a strong recovery. “Newspaper industry is quite happy with the volumes, and it has largely come back. The growth is strong and I don’t think there is much stress on that account.”

According to Deleise Ross, Sr. Partner - Client Lead, DDB Mudramax, "English dailies have a lot of traction/investments from new advertisers which has led to the growth of English dailies.”

Ross explained that most advertisers get into the medium through large-format commercials, which has contributed to an increase in ad volumes. Furthermore, large traditional sectors are exhibiting indications of resurrection, while mid-sized sectors such as real estate, education, and FMCG are catching up. Ross remarked that the scenario for Hindi dailies is not dissimilar; the only difference is that a few traditional categories have not recovered to pre-Covid levels.

“English newspapers prefer larger-format ads, innovations and newer formats. Also, key festivals and topical events lead to ad sales. This has led to the overall growth, though Hindi publications mostly have local advertisers who are affected due to various factors like price and socio-economic factors,” added Ross. 

Predicting the growth for both English and Hindi dailies, Ross shared that on the basis of market predictions, Rs 18750 crore is the revenue that the print category is estimated to clock. To this figure, English contributes 40%, Hindi 20% and other regional language publications contribute 15-20%. 

“This forecast is basis the last three years CAGR of 10.8%. The forecast is also that the medium itself will start to plateau due to the increase in the paper/production cost & the fact that the medium is slowly being swapped for newer technologies. The medium will need to look at alternative ways to reach out to the audience, before becoming irrelevant,” he said. 

Adding to the above statement, Subramanian S said that following this trajectory, they anticipate good volume growth in FY '23 vs FY '20 and FY '22. “English dailies, in particular, are expected to grow by double digits owing to increased demand brought in by the festive season and an uplift in consumer sentiment as they prepare to leave the pandemic's shadow behind.”                                              

 



 

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