What Media expects from Union Budget 2019

From reduction in GST to improvement in credit growth and internet infrastructure in rural areas, here’s what media heads want from the government

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Published: Jul 3, 2019 8:23 AM  | 7 min read
Budget

The first Union Budget of the Narendra Modi government 2.0 will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on July 5. The Budget is likely to focus on agrarian crisis, tax reliefs, job creation etc. The interim Budget was presented on February 1 by then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal who made some important announcements such as income tax reliefs, tax exemption for investors and expansion of rural industrialisation etc.

As the country waits for the announcements, we caught up with heads of some media houses to know what they want from the Union Budget this time. From improving credit growth to abolishment of 5 per cent GST on the import of newsprint, take a look at what they expect from the government.

M K Anand, MD & CEO, Times Network

We expect some clear signals from the government to improve credit growth and investment cycle. There are signs of a slowdown that we expect this Budget to address. That includes increased outlay on infrastructure and addressing a distressed farm sector urgently. The New Tariff Order has positive impact in the long term. But in the immediate term, consumers are complaining of change in price, value equation. There may be a case to look at reducing GST for a year. This will be a great solace to consumers and the industry.

Varghese Chandy, VP-Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama

The Union Budget 2019 should help the disposable income go up to encourage consumption. It should look at rationalisation of taxes, GST etc. The government should also concentrate on infrastructure development and set up policies that will push the economy further. India should become a manufacturing destination. The government should give the media freedom to do its job rather than resorting to practices like embargo on advertising to those who report against them.


MV Shreyams Kumar, Joint Managing Director, Mathrubhumi 

Introduction of a 5 per cent GST on print advertising has affected the already ailing print business. The print budget, instead of proportionally increasing, was restricted to include the added GST component. The case is almost similar with 18 per cent GST for TV, Radio and Online advertising. The reduction of Corporate Tax to 25 per cent has been a long-standing requirement. Abolishment of 5 per cent GST on the import of newsprint should be taken into consideration. The Budget should also consider the extension of tax reduction on low-speed machinery used for newsrooms and allied production activities.  

Abhinav Khare, Group CEO, Asianet News Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd.

 After a significant growth in digital penetration and digital literacy in the country, it's now time for the government to focus more on Tier 2/3 and rural sectors. The upcoming Budget must further the agenda of the Digital India revolution, which focuses on upgrading the IT infrastructure and internet penetration so that the rural masses are included. The government must also commit and allocate budget towards more research and training with this regard. The last Budget was an extremely positive one with the 10-point agenda for 2030 which spoke of the set-up of digital villages in an effort to drive digital inclusion. We can only expect the same from this Budget. The new mandate from the government in tandem with the upcoming 5G revolution should drive more rural population online and we should see a manifold increase in vernacular content and media.

Sitaraman Shankar, Editor, Deccan Herald

It’s a new term and a new Finance Minister, but some of the challenges she faces have built up over the years, foremost among which is job creation. Luckily, given that inflation is benign, there is the opportunity to put money in the hands of consumers in order to give the economy a push.


B Srinivasan, Managing Director, Vikatan Group

Being the first Budget of Modi government 2.0 and the very first of Finance Minister  Nirmala Sitharaman, the common man’s expectations from this Budget is one that triggers growth. The Media and Advertising industry is one in which consumption growth is already happening at a frantic pace. However, we are dependent on spends of advertisers who in turn wait for increased consumer spends. We sincerely believe that this Budget will trigger credit growth that results in industrial activity, which in turn is expected to trigger consumption growth.

The automobile industry, one of the major economic indicators, has registered a continuous negative growth for the 8th consecutive month, and this sector is a bellwether for growth projections in India. With the hangover from the General Elections, IPL and World Cup in the first quarter of this Financial Year, we believe a Budget that enhances money in the hands of the common man will be the first priority of the government.

Yet, the slightly delayed monsoon season is expected to lead to a lower rural income and that will further accentuate the existing negative demand cycle. With the policy continuity and economic stability on the cards, I would expect the government to put forward growth-oriented policies to trigger demand-led growth. 

PR Satheesh, COO, MMTV

A Budget that brings in positivity and cheer to the industry and common man will help loosen up the purse - that could mean greater productivity and increased consumption.


Boby Paul, General Manager, Manormaonline

The Union Budget 2019 should take into consideration lowering the Digital Media Services charges from the current 18% to a chewable 12 to 15%. Kerala specific wish list for the Union Budget is for a better support from Centre to re-build the flood-hit state, both in infrastructure and the local/retail economy.

Ranjeet Kate, CEO, Vijay Karnataka

Media industry reflects the economic progress of the country. Advertisers, private or government, utilise media to build brands and drive sales. Hence, the key expectation from the coming Union Budget is to drive the Indian economy to higher rates of growth.

Last few years, the Indian GDP was primarily driven by consumption and investment. However, currently, consumption is also doing badly. Hence, we expect Budget to have measures which separately drive consumption and investment.

The newspaper industry attracts a lot of interest-rate sensitive clients. This covers verticals like real-estate, auto, BFSI, durables, electronics etc. These advertisers would like the rate of interest on loans to be affordable and loans widely available. We hope Budget would act on this critical area.


Varun Kohli, CEO, ITV Network 

It has to be a Budget for middle class and for increasing demand. While focusing on agrarian crisis is key, creating positive sentiments to push demand in key categories is equally important.

B Surendar, COO, RED FM Network 

At a broader level, one would definitely expect the government to take strong measures to spur economic growth which seems to be showing some signs of a slowdown of late. Critical sectors such as auto, BFSI, real estate and telecom may require attention. The proposed push to digital and infrastructure areas initiated in the interim Budget in Feb’19 needs to be taken forward.

The Media and Entertainment sector, which undoubtedly offers tremendous growth and employment potential, would expect issues related to investment, tax and content security to be addressed on priority.

As far as the radio industry is concerned, slashing of the GST rate to 5% to bring it on par with Print (the other powerful local medium) is of great importance as we are a free-to-air medium almost fully dependent on ad revenues. The other important expectation is w.r.t reduction of duties on imported equipment used by our industry to help business viability as we are poised to expand into much smaller cities through the last batch of phase 3 expansion.

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2023 to be a growth story for print

Industry leaders predict the print sector will see a growth spurt in 2023 as advertisers return to the medium; stabilising of newsprint prices to help further

By Sonam Saini | Jan 5, 2023 8:58 AM   |   6 min read

Print

The year 2022 was a period of recovery as well as a challenging one for the print industry. While on one hand, a majority of players surpassed pre-Covid levels in terms of advertising revenue in several markets, a rise in newsprint prices did have an adverse impact on the business. 

However, as we begin 2023 industry leaders are optimistic that the sector's challenging period has passed. Newsprint prices too have stabilised and is likely to drop further in the upcoming months. 

According to MV Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director of Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing, 2017 and 2018 were the golden years of print and the sector is operating upwards of 75-80% in revenue compared to that period. “We are estimating to get closer to 90% in 2023 and surpass the golden period’s numbers by 2024. If we look at a decade of print starting from 2017 and our projections till 2027, one could undoubtedly say 2017 and 2018 were the golden period of print,” he asserted.

Kumar further added that there have been various discussions about print AdEx getting adversely impacted by digital. The growth of digital and digital channels of communication are undeniable. However, there is also an equal realization that the impact marketers were able to create in the minds of consumers is lagging behind, in the hunger of chasing last mile and performance-led parameters on digital, he said. 

“The eroding baseline of the brands is getting marketers concerned and it will be hard for them to forsake traditional media, particularly print in that context. Even in digital the growth is mostly happening from the vernacular market. While Jio disrupted the accessibility framework, almost 90% of those new customers have also come in from tier 2 and 3 markets. Vernacular holds a big story for the future. And as a vernacular newspaper, we are optimistic of getting the benefit of that.” 

Speaking of the market that they operate in, Kumar said that Kerala is the only state in India where Print’s reach surpasses that of TV. “Kerala has huge untapped potential for every single category. To educate advertisers about the same and offer them a never before solution, we have just launched a unique proposition #GatewayToKerala. It brings all our assets together - Print, TV, Radio and Digital - to create a surround impact. Content, community, engagements, experiences, quality first-party data and real RoI are part of our offerings here. As against the traditional campaign-led approach, any client can throw a specific market challenge at us and we go back with a tailor-made, efficient and compelling go-to-market strategy.”

According to a recent CRISIL Ratings report, while print media will see a healthy ad revenue growth of 15% year-on-year next fiscal, it will still trail the pre-pandemic level by 800-1000 basis points. This is due to a slow recovery in ad yields, particularly for English editions.

As for Malcolm Raphael, Senior Vice President, Times Response, "The growth of print advertising volumes in 2022–2023 compared to 2020–2021 indicated the dominance of print as a compelling option for marketers for new launches, topical communication, and brand messages."

Some of the patterns expected in 2023, as per Raphael are, a rise in consumer spending on tangible goods and services, real estate, cars, travel and tourism, retail, clothing, appliances, and consumer durables.

"The current social media upheaval and the widening gulf in trust between users of existing digital platforms present a chance for print to improve its product offerings and enhance consumer engagement. Due to the likelihood of a recession in the developed economies the following year, we may witness increased investments in developing economies like ours, which would increase demand for consumer goods and boost advertising," explained Raphael.

He also pointed out that the bigger advertisers returned in 2021 and 2022 but 2023 might be the year industry will see the smaller advertisers return as local businesses like retail stores, travel agencies, salons, and restaurants begin to recover from the impact of Covid. "In the most recent quarter, we have already noticed this."

Varghese Chandy, Vice President, Marketing & Advertising-Sales, at Malayala Manorama, shared that 2022 been the year of recovery for most media, particularly print. “We have seen that we reached the 2019 level in the last quarter. Most of the retailers have done well in catering to the pent-up demand and print has been the primary medium, especially during the festive seasons. Newspapers in Kerala saw the least drop in circulation even during Covid. We are all working towards pre-Covid numbers now,” he shared.

Chandy believes the current challenges will persist in 2023, but certain categories may be able to overcome them.

"Yield has been and will continue to be a challenge. So will the bottom line, as newsprint prices have risen to levels not seen in a year. A lot of categories, such as consumer durables and mobiles, will return to print in a big way because print is definitely delivering results. Tourism and related businesses such as hotels and airlines will thrive. Retail will continue to grow and will contribute significantly to print advertising. Print will continue to be important in areas such as health and education. More emphasis will be placed on transforming space sellers into solution providers. As a result, the emphasis on events, activation, BTL activities, strategic partnerships, and so on will increase," Chandy explained.

According to Amit Chopra, Joint Managing Director, Punjab Kesari, "The second and third quarters of the current fiscal year have been very encouraging for the print industry. In some cases, we surpassed pre-COVID advertising revenues last year, beginning in July. The year 2022 was superior to the years 2020 and 2021."

He also stated that the way a large portion of circulation has returned shows that the print industry is not going away anytime soon. People who return to print after Covid will do so for a longer period of time.

Chopra expressed his belief that the print industry will continue to grow in advertising in 2023. Because the Indian economy is doing better than the European and American economies, he believes that the number of advertisers and spends will increase in 2023. Also, nine state elections are coming this year which will also lead to an increase in political ad spending.

In terms of circulation, he stated that everyone is now attempting to increase their circulation numbers by launching new schemes and conducting door-to-door campaigns. Chopra also believes that the higher cover prices have been well received by readers, compensating for any circulation loss and higher new newsprint prices.

Regarding newsprint prices, he said after touching a peak of $900-950/tonne last year it has gone to $650/tonne and is likley to decline further to $600/tonne. "The newsprint prices have gone down and stabilised, which will drive profits for newspapers in 2023."  

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Will always remember Atul Maheshwari for teaching us the art of decisiveness

Atul Maheshwari was then our hero, a media maverick who could pull rabbits out of hats and make things happen, writes Saurabh Tyagi

By Saurabh Tyagi | Jan 3, 2023 9:07 PM   |   3 min read

Atul Maheshwari

Looking back in time, my memories of working with the Amar Ujala are laced with what was once perceived as the ‘’learning institution of the print media industry.”

Atul Maheshwari who was fondly referred to as Bhai Saheb, carved out an image for himself as a professional who had huge passion & equally high emotional intelligence in whatever he did. He was indeed & truly a complete 360 degree expert.

In a classic hierarchical structure in 1999, a nod from him or a word of recognition would make us feel superior to our peers. Though as Management Trainees we formed the base of the pyramid, secretly we recognized and knew that we would manage to perform well simply because of the leadership we were working for.

He had revamped the entire vernacular print media industry starting from brand positioning, editorial, design, business strategies and properties for each business vertical.

Atul Ji was then our hero, a media maverick who could pull rabbits out of hats and make things happen. A man of many facets, he was larger than life, and yet had a humane side in him that common people could also connect with him just like the industry seniors who in spite of their success recognize him as their mentor.

He would let out a dry laugh and say a few kind words. Years later, when I moved to TOI, I had informed him, “Sir, I had an opportunity.” He said, “God bless you Pandit ji ,its a great institution , go and learn.” 

Amar Ujala came from his extraordinary ability to appear not only as Confident but also as the Courageous one to lead from the front. I am talking of the 2000’s. Group had embarked to launch on 2 distinct markets to give Amar Ujala the much needed competitive edge. One was to infuse Creativity in the way business was to be carried out – whether it was the introduction of Dak edition rates (a unique pricing structure aimed to milk the hyper local advertising or to make the existing product(s) more market-friendly or tapping of new advertising segments, even with the introduction of niche brands(Country’s first vernacular Business Daily – Karobaar). And the other thing was also to create a great sense of Optimism for the Regional Print industry specially when TV was beginning to emerge. He was able to set new paradigms for the industry. As I said it was a different era and it had little room for Flexibility. Whatever happened backstage, for the people, both inside and outside, the always buck stopped at Bhai Saheb. He was the Empowered one.

That era has gone and so has bhaisaheb. But whatever foundation stones that were laid down then, helps Amar Ujala even today. I will always remember Atul Ji in gratitude for teaching us “The power of Communication” & “The Art of Decisiveness” as key learning for self growth.

Bhai Saheb will always remain my beloved Guru.

(Saurabh Tyagi is a well known media veteran and marketing consultant)

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Tributes pour in on Atul Maheshwari’s 12th death anniversary

Friends and industry colleagues fondly remember the visionary journalist on his death anniversary

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 3, 2023 5:09 PM   |   3 min read

Atul Maheshwari

Today is the 12th death anniversary of Atul Maheshwari, former Managing Director of Amar Ujala who took the group to new heights. Born on May 3, 1956, Atul Maheshwari was snatched from us by the cruel hands of time on this very day in 2011.

Maheshwari, a post graduate in Political Science, was active in the media for nearly four decades. He learned the nuances of media under the guidance of his father and co-founder of 'Amar Ujala' Murarilal Maheshwari. After this he moved to Meerut in the year 1986 to launch the edition of the newspaper.

In true sense, Atul Maheshwari was not the owner of the newspaper, he was a journalist first. The understanding he had about the news or rather the hold he had on the news, is hardly the owner of any media house. He was always available for all the members of 'Amar Ujala' family. He behaved not like an MD but like a journalist.

Later he expanded 'Amar Ujala' to Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Delhi besides starting several editions in Uttar Pradesh and took it to new heights. During this, he was associated with various institutions related to the media industry. 

On the 12th death anniversary of Atul Maheshwari, tributes poured in from his friends and industry colleagues.

Recalling Atul Maheshwari's incomparable contribution to the media industry, Dr. Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of 'Businessworld' and 'Exchange4Media', says, 'Mr. Atul Maheshwari was a great gentleman and the development of Amar Ujala was a result of his vision. There is clear evidence of. Beyond his professional achievements, he was a true and passionate man at heart and was like a caring elder brother.

Senior media professional Varun Kohli, who has held important positions in various prestigious media institutions, has also paid his tribute to Atul Maheshwari remembering the things related to him. Varun Kohli says that Atul Maheshwari has always been and will be an invaluable contribution in his life. His death has been a huge blow for me personally as well.

According to Varun Kohli, 'Whatever we have learned, we have learned from Atul Maheshwari ji. The place that Atul ji has had in my life, cannot be of anyone else. He has been my inspiration and guide. He was active in the field of media for nearly 37 years and played an important role in taking Amar Ujala Group to new heights.

Senior journalist Shambhunath Shukla says, “ He was extremely humble and a gracious boss.  I had joined Amar Ujala as editor in Kanpur in August 2002 and he passed away on January 3, 2011, but in these years he left such an indelible impression which was rare. He also wished well for his ill-wishers. He believed in doing good to others at the cost of his own loss and considered his employees as his co-workers. For the editorial department, he was a reporter first, boss later.”

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Atul Maheswari's contribution to journalism remembered on his 12th death anniversary

Maheshwari was instrumental in taking the Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala to new heights

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 3, 2023 10:35 AM   |   1 min read

Atul Maheshwari

Atul Maheshwari, former Managing Director of the Amar Ujala group of publications, is being remembered on his 12th death anniversary.

Maheshwari’s association with the media industry spanned close to four decades.

A post graduate in political science, Maheshwari was instrumental in taking the Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala to new heights.

He got early training in the industry under his father and co-founder of Amar Ujala, the late Muralilal Maheshwari in Bareily. Later he  moved to Meerut in 1986 to set up the newspaper's edition there. He also expanded Amar Ujala to Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Delhi besides starting half a dozen editions in Uttar Pradesh.

Remembering Maheswari’s immense contribution to media, Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld and exchange4media Group said, “Sh Atul Maheshwari was a gentle giant and the growth of Amar Ujala is a testimony to his vision. More than his professional achievements he was a person of heart and emotions and the most caring older brother one could ask for.”

Maheswari was also associated with several organisations related to the media industry and was a keen watcher of the global media industry.



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Times Group’s Samir Jain opens his innings as a columnist

In “The Speaking Tree” column of the Times of India, he wrote a glowing tribute to Prime Minister Modi’s mother

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 2, 2023 4:17 PM   |   2 min read

Samir Jain

Samir Jain, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, The Times Group has opened his innings as a columnist.

In “The Speaking Tree” column of the Times of India, Times Group Managing Director Samir Jain wrote a glowing tribute to Prime Minister Modi’s mother.

“I never had the good fortune of meeting Heeraben but when I met the Prime Minister a few weeks ago, the reverence and affection he expressed for her during our meeting gave me a vivid glimpse into Heeraben’s remarkable and extraordinary personality”, Jain wrote.

Jain also wrote about Prime Minister Modi’s extraordinary commitment to work. 

“We grieve most when we lose our mother. And the finest tribute we can pay to her is by doing what she always wanted us to do – the right thing, the right way. That was probably why the Prime Minister, after performing her last rites and fulfilling his dharma as a son, immediately returned to his duties. His decision to do so might have surprised many, but this was a son’s quiet and dignified way of expressing love and respect for his mother."

He further elaborated that there was a guiding force in our lives, and it finds reflection in what we do.

“If we take a look at Modiji’s life or analyse his decisions as Prime Minister, we will find that commitment to duty has always been his foremost priority. Renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path has deep significance – it was an exhortation to the citizens to do their duty to the nation, a path Modiji has followed. In the Prime Minister’s public life we clearly see that the values he holds dear were part of his upbringing,” Jain wrote in his tribute.

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Millennium Post finds a new owner in publisher of Aaj Kal - Techno India

The deal is said to be a game-changer for the publication

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 28, 2022 12:32 PM   |   3 min read

MP

As with so many other industries, the Indian media landscape is going through a massive churn. We have seen major entities change hands, mindsets, and priorities as India transforms and connects to a wider global audience even as she retains her singularity. The Millennium Post is the latest publication to become part of this paradigm shift.

At a time when the print industry is recovering strongly in a post-Covid economy, Millennium Post has found fresh reprieve after finding a new majority stake owner, in what will be a game changer for the publication. 

While details are still to emerge, sources say that Satyam Roy Chowdhury (MD of Techno India Group, a conglomerate that operates education, hospitality, and healthcare companies, as well as the Aaj Kal media group) has bought a majority stake in the company. 

"We have a highly reputed media school and have had a presence in vernacular media. The purchase of an English language publication is part of our long-term business strategy, and to help our media school students to gain exposure in the field," said CEO Sanku Bose, speaking to e4m. 

The 16-page broadsheet, and its ancillary online avatar, was started in 2012 and conceived by Durbar Ganguly, former Vice Chairman and Joint Managing Director, The Pioneer Group, who is the promoter of the broadsheet. Ganguly will remain as Director and editor of the publication. The newspaper is headquartered in Delhi with an edition in Kolkata

According to sources close to the development, while Ganguly had admitted to tough times for the organisation, he said that the introduction of new capital had revitalized the publication's future and resources. While numbers remain unconfirmed, the former proprietors were allegedly willing to sell the publication, once valued at Rs 12 crore, for Rs 8 crore. Neither parties disclosed the actual sums when asked by e4m. 

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

As previously reported on e4m, "While 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."

As advertisers pivot to digital, and seek mass reach in an increasingly internet focused consumer base, Millennium Post is likely to follow the same trajectory. 

According to sources, the Millennium Post has had strong ties with Mamata Banerjee's TMC government in West Bengal, concentrated around its reader base which may perhaps explain the slacking off of central administrative advertising, given the current unifying state of politics around the world, thereby leading to its purchase by Techno India.

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Washington Post CEO draws flak for avoiding queries on layoffs

The publication has said it will go for layoffs in the first quarter of 2023

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 16, 2022 11:51 AM   |   1 min read

Fred

Washington Post CEO Fred Ryan came in for criticism from the employees for refusing to answer questions on layoffs.

The post had organised a meeting of all staff members on December 14.

The publication has said it will go for layoffs in the first quarter of 2023.

As part of this, Washington Post has already decided to shut down its Sunday magazine and let go off 11 newsroom employees.

 

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