New Delhi: The publisher of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Dow Jones & Co. Inc. has applied to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), part of the ministry of finance, for permission to launch in India the facsimile edition of WSJ, according to the board’s website.
A facsimile edition is the replica of a paper published abroad. Indian laws do not allow such editions to carry local content or advertisements.
The FIPB website shows that the application was filed on 29 July, two days before News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch arrived in India on a six day unrelated visit. News Corp. acquired Dow Jones for $5 billion in 2007.
Bill Casey, vice-president, international, WSJ, said that the company had applied to print a facsimile edition of either WSJ or The Wall Street Journal Asia (WSJA). He added that it expected to “do a contract with an Indian partner for printing and distribution”.
In India, WSJ has an exclusive content partnership with Mint, published by HT Media Ltd. Casey said the proposal before FIPB “has absolutely no effect on our content partnership with Mint”.
“HT Media was the first group with which we discussed the possibility of printing a facsimile,” he said.
A spokesperson for HT Media declined to comment on the issue beyond saying discussions that Dow Jones might have had on this issue with HT Media are confidential.
The Hyderabad-headquartered Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd, or DCHL, has been bringing out a facsimile edition of The International Herald Tribune under an arrangement with The New York Times Co. A DCHL executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity claimed the firm sells 3,000 copies of the paper, priced at Rs30, across India.
An application by Jagran Prakashan Ltd to bring out a facsimile edition of UK’s The Independent, has been pending with the government since 2006 because the title has been registered by someone else, according to Jagran Prakashan’s CEO Sanjay Gupta.
On Monday, during a press conference in Mumbai, Murdoch ruled out entering the publishing business in India with present foreign direct investment (FDI) regulations. “We don’t want to be a 26% partner,” Murdoch added, referring to the FDI cap in print news media. Casey said that plans to launch a facsimile edition were motivated by a desire to “improve service” to existing customers and “seek other customers” even as the company looked “forward to the day when the current restrictions...ease”.
Daily copies of WSJA, a tabloid format paper, are currently imported and sold in India for Rs80 each. Casey said that the company hopes to launch the product “this fall” and that it expects to sell “a few thousand (copies) at the start”. The price at which these will be sold isn’t known.
WSJ’s main global rival, the Financial Times, plans to team with TV18 for a financial newspaper to be published in India.