On the biggest challenge for the newspaper industry in the current scenario:
Managing costs will be the biggest challenge and newsprint is the biggest cost factor. Newsprint prices have come down in the past three months and they are likely to remain easy till June or so. After that, however, the situation may again become a little tight.
Tight situation: Sanjay Gupta, chief executive officer, Jagran Prakashan Ltd and editor, Dainik Jagran. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
There is a likelihood of the supply of international newsprint getting strained because many global newsprint companies are going slow on their production and some, such as AbitibiBowater Inc., have applied for bankruptcy. All these factors are likely to push the newsprint prices up again.
On the impact of newsprint prices on regional publications:
We use only around 20% of the imported newsprint. But domestic newsprint prices also move according to the global prices. Of course, the volatility is not as much but then, any increase pushes the costs up.
On the decline in ad revenues:
I feel that this sentiment around the so-called slowdown is a bit exaggerated. If you look at the corporate results, especially of those companies that advertise heavily, things don’t seem as bleak as they are made out to be. Also, it is not that advertisers have completely stopped advertising.
Print companies are taking a beating because of the huge discounts they are being forced to give. We feel it will depend on the resilience of a company to take the battering on this account.
On how regional markets are battling the slowdown:
Regional markets are much, much better than national markets. There are small, retail and classified advertisers in these markets who continue to advertise and their needs can not be fulfilled by any other medium but print. Radio is gradually making inroads, but still it hasn’t reached a stage where advertisers would start giving print a miss. On an average, these markets grow at around 20-25% and we don’t see them slowing down in the near future.