Mumbai: India’s first automobile magazine published by a newspaper, Business Standard Motoring (BSM), is up for sale.
Delhi Press Group is in talks to buy the 17-year-old magazine, owned by Business Standard Ltd. According to at least four persons close to the development, the discussions are in the final stages and the deal could be valued at less than Rs.10 crore.
Both Anant Nath, editor of Delhi Press Group, and Akila Urankar, president of Business Standard Ltd, declined to comment for the story.
Founded in 1939 by the late Vishva Nath, Delhi Press Group publishes 32 magazines in nine languages. The list includes Woman’s Era, The Caravan, Sarita, Grihshobha, and Champak, among others.
BSM started off as a page exclusively dedicated to automobiles on Saturdays in financial daily Business Standard in 1995, the first such page in any newspaper.
“Back then, there were only 13 brands, including variants,” said a person who has worked closely with BSM since its inception. “In fact, the editor of the paper wondered what would the automobile page carry after 13 weeks!”
The founder editor of the magazine was Bijoy Kumar Y. who now works for a car maker. It began to publish as a standalone quarterly magazine in 1998, turning into a monthly in January 1999. In 1996, BSM was the first auto magazine in the country to award a Car of The Year prize.
“BSM has been incurring losses and to cut cost, it has reduced the number of pages,” said one of the persons cited above. Mint could not ascertain the extent of the losses.
“The Delhi Press group has a legacy of publishing dedicated specialized magazines, and has the expertise to run a magazine like BSM. The magazine (BSM) will add on to their existing portfolio,” said another person.
Delhi Press is likely to buy both the brand and the product and employ some of the existing staff of the magazine.
BSM has a circulation of 40,000, including copies that go out to subscribers and those available for sale on the news stands. A condensed 48-page version of the magazine was distributed free to Business Standard readers once a month.
The BSM editorial team had eight people until February-end—a number that has halved. The magazine used the design, marketing and administrative staff of Business Standard newspaper.
India has at least four auto magazines, with the pack being led in circulation terms by Autocar India, followed by Overdrive, Auto India, Auto Bild. To be sure, BSM is not the only magazine facing rough times.
“The magazine business has been struggling. With exceptions of a few genres like luxury and travel, most other segments are taking a hit, especially the English magazines. This is a result of the advertising environment in 2012,” said Jehil Thakkar, head of media entertainment at audit and consultancy firm KPMG.
According to a 2013 media and entertainment report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and KPMG, the overall magazine industry grew by 1% in 2012, and was valued at Rs.1,300 crore.
The revenue share of magazines in the print media was 6% of Rs.22,400 crore last year.
The report projects the share will remain at the same level even though the overall pie will increase to Rs.24,100 crore in 2013.
The magazine industry’s share of revenues in the overall print industry is estimated to drop to 4% of Rs.34,000 crore by 2017.
According to media experts, while general content and news magazine are going through a tough time, special-interest and niche magazines have the potential to grow and be monetized in the long run as readers are seeking more focused content.
Mint, published by HT Media Ltd, competes with Business Standard.