Mumbai: Amid soaring newsprint costs and a slowing of the Indian economy, some newspapers are taking a hard look at some local editions.
Diligent Media Corp has just discontinued its Indore edition of the DNA Money, a stand alone daily business paper that also comes as a section with its flagship Daily News & Analysis (DNA) newspaper in markets such as Mumbai. DNA Money was launched as a stand alone business paper for Indore in 2006.
KU Rao, chief executive of Diligent Media, said the company had launched the Business Bhaskar, the Hindi financial daily from Dainik Bhaskar group, in Indore recently. He claimed that since it was addressing the same target group as DNA Money, the latter was discontinued. He also said the company intended to launch DNA in Indore very soon and that would then include the DNA Money as a supplement. But, Rao gave no timeframe for DNA’s launch in Indore. According to Rao, the Business Bhaskar now sells 15,800 copies in Indore.
Meanwhile, the Business Standard newspaper has stopped printing its Gujarati edition in Rajkot and its editorial office there will also be closed, though certain circulation executives will remain in place. Rajkot will be served by the paper’s Ahmedabad edition. Akila Urankar, president of Business Standard, said it no longer made sense for the company to print a Rajkot edition. She said that since the English version of the paper was anyway coming from Ahmedabad, it made sense to do the same for the Gujarati version as well.
Media buyers see such streamlining and rationalization as inevitable as Indian media houses wake up to the reality of a clearly slowing advertising market and rising costs. Just 11 months ago one tonne of newsprint was selling for $540; it has now climbed to about $950. While both small towns and non-English business newspapers are clearly seen as having growing potential, they still generate only a sliver of advertising.
“The vernacular business area is nascent and you need to build newspapers in these markets,” notes L.S. Krishnan, president of Mudra Radar unit of ad agency Mudra Group.
“There will an increase or decrease of editions depending on what is viable,” says Prasanth Kumar, managing partner at GroupM India Pvt Ltd. Indeed, Diligent is gearing up for a major Bangalore launch of DNA.
Mint’s publisher HT Media Ltd also publishes the Hindustan Times, which competes with DNA in some markets.