Despite growing challenges, future of print is strong, say experts
While the economic slowdown, Rupee depreciation & rising newsprint cost are putting pressure on bottomlines, print players are ready to upgrade content & co-exist with various media
Print media has been facing the onslaught of rising newsprint costs, slowdown in the economy and the increasing inroads ring made by digital media. The question regarding the future of print has been raised on numerous occasions. In contrast to the scenario in the West, industry experts feel that print remains a robust sector in India.
Speaking about the current situation in the newspaper industry, Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media remarked, “The scenario looks very scary, but I am an optimist and believe that the future of newspaper is still very strong. I don’t think we are going to see the death of the newspaper, as we saw the death of the telegram some time back.” He further said that in a country of a billion people, newspapers have a role to play. “Even if the newspaper undergoes some changes, the business of news will not go away,” he added.
“Companies creating content will fundamentally be concerned about creating good content and will figure out a way to co-exist with various media and the latest technologies,” said Verma. He added that digital is not the last change that people have witnessed in the area of technology; there will be more changes, where technology will force companies to adopt new behaviours and different models and ways to provide news.
Ravi Dhariwal, CEO, BCCL, too, is confident about the future of print in India. He affirmed, “I have no doubt in my mind that in India, print will not just exist but will continue to flourish. And why do I say that? Because, fundamentally the newspaper model that we have in India is very reader-friendly. Newspaper probably provides the best value among all consumer products. You get a paper at the minimum price delivered at your doorstep every morning.”
Dhariwal also highlighted how the newspaper has changed over time, wherein earlier it was in black and white and the newsprint was of bad quality. Now, the print quality has improved immensely and the entire newspaper is packaged in a more attractive format.
Meanwhile, speaking about the current scenario in the country, Dhariwal pointed out, “We are faced with unprecedented challenges today. Cost of operations is going up, and Rupee devaluation has certainly not helped things. We don’t collect any money from our readers since the price of the newspaper is so low. To print a paper of 50 pages, it costs us around Rs 12 to Rs 13, and if you add other costs such as editorial, etc., the cost goes up to Rs 17 to Rs 18.”
He further said, “Our business model is under huge stress and we need to balance it. Yes, we will struggle through our readers and advertisers, but we will get it right.”
According to Bhaskar Das, Group CEO, News Cluster, ZEE, the future of news and journalism is bright. Commenting on the tremendous work that newspapers are doing on various platforms, he said, “Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar are doing inspirational work. Newspapers have seen a lot of success in tier II and III cities. The way both Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar have embraced their digital offerings is remarkable.”
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