Print media: A time of question marks and controversies

From IRS, HT-TOI war, high-profile launches and chaotic people movements, we take stock of the print industry's high and low points

e4m by Abid Hasan
Published: Jan 2, 2015 8:38 AM  | 4 min read
Print media: A time of question marks and controversies

We round up the defining moments for the print industry in 2014, taking into account the significant developments, launches, movements and talking points in the sector.

From the advertising point of view the year went well given the background of Lok Sabha Election and festive season. Lok Sabha election played a significant role with thousands of crores of advertising.

The industry saw a strong expansion in the regional sector last year. The mantra of ‘regional is the new national’ continued last year too. Six leading publications of the country – Hindustan Times, Hindustan, The Hindu, The Hindu Tamil, The Telegraph and Ananda Bazar Patrika – came together and formed the OneIndia group, a platform to facilitate reach to the largest print audience with a single advertisement platform and also to compete with Times of India.

The IRS imbroglio

The much awaited IRS came with research last year that met with fierce opposition from several publications. This led into controversies for four good months. Major publishing house opted against IRS, some of them knocked the door of High Court and few of them decided to go against it and demanded for revalidation. With Indian Newspaper Society intervening in the matter and asking to withdraw the numbers within 24 hours, it added fuel to the fire.

Even post revalidation, publisher’s sentiments are almost the same. The print industry is also waiting anxiously of the current round of IRS which is expected to come soon.

Significant launches

The industry seems to be focusing aggressively on tier 2 and 3 cities. It all started with the much hyped Patna launch of Dainik Bhaskar. It’s known to be a very strategic move as Patna is a tough window for the Hindi belt. The next launch was from the newspaper giant Times of India, they launched their Gujarati daily, NavGujarat Samay . In order to tap the elite readers’ market,  Economic Times launched ET Panache, a lifestyle & leisure accompaniment to the main newspaper which covers bigwigs, industry honchos, and top guns.

Last year we saw the closure of some of the old magazines as well as launches of niche and general interest magazines. Business World launched Hotelier International Magazine, while Discovery launched Discovery Channel Magazine with India Today Group.  Next Gen Publishing also launched their 10th magazine title, ‘Auto Components’. India Today Group also got Harper’s Bazar Bride Magazine in partnership with Hearst Group.  India Legal was also re-launched as fortnightly and Shri Group also launched general interest magazine Shri World.

Movement Matters

Last year saw the biggest movement in the media industry in last one decade, not only in the print but television domain too. Shekhar Gupta quitting Indian Express and Joining India Today Group was the biggest movement of the year and then moving out after two months of joining. BCCL CEO Ravi Dhariwal stepping down from his post was an important movement. Manu Joseph decided to move on from Open Magazine and then Dilip C Mandal, Managing Editor, India Today also resigned; Kaveri Bamzai also steps down from India Today and then again joined India Today. While MK Venu joined Amar Ujala and India Today’s S Prasannarajan  joined Open as Editor. Last but not the least R Rajmohan  moved on from Open Magazine and Mohit Hira was appointed as CEO, Open.

End game for print continues

DNA was supposed to launch their Delhi edition but instead of that they closed their Pune operations and are focusing more on digital. Also, Jagran Prakshan took the same route and closed down their tabloid Mid Day in Pune.

Blame Game over Morning and Moaning challenge

The two giants of newspaper business Times of India and Hindustan Times got into an ugly blame game of who is number one. While TOI says they are the number one in Delhi/NCR, HT claimed of ‘missing’ copies. This attack and counter attack went on for two good months as TOI claimed they are the only horse while HT said TOI is the only cry baby. Adding a pinch to that, The Hindu took a dig and asked their readers to  'Keep calm' and 'Read The Hindu'.

Jagran sings City Tune

Last but not the least buying out Radio City  was a surprising move from the Hindi Print Giant Dainik Jagran.

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