Media and entertainment company Network18 Media & Investments Ltd has decided to suspend the publication of Firstpost, its weekly English language newspaper. The 20-page broadsheet was launched this January, eight years after the launch of the online news portal. The issue that comes out this Saturday will be its last.
“Firstpost is a platform agnostic brand that has stood for strong and credible opinions and will continue to do so. The brand has believed in constantly experimenting and re-investing itself, and Firstpost in print was one such experiment to provide a weekend reading experience to a different audience than online. The experiment has provided us with good learnings. While we were pleased with the ongoing evolution of the brand and the compelling journalism the team produced on a weekly basis, logistical problems made the project unsustainable in print," a statement from the company said.
The quality of journalism offered by Firstpost will continue in digital and other platforms for loyal consumers, it added. Over the years, Firstpost has come to stand for a certain class of journalism and Network18 is committed to its growth. The company will continue to invest in the brand, it said.
Available in Mumbai, Delhi and the National Capital Region, the Firstpost newspaper was aimed at discerning audiences in the large cities.
In an earlier interaction with Mint, Rahul Kansal, business head of the paper and brand advisor, Network18, had said that in trying to cater to mass audiences, bigger newspapers of the country had left more discerning readers slightly estranged. The company’s projections had shown that a general newspaper with a political bent like Firstpost could be a self-sustaining business proposition. While Kansal did not divulge investment details, he had said it was a controlled, high-quality product. The paper priced at Rs. 8 (and coming at an annual subscription of Rs. 249), was looking at 50,000 copies in Mumbai and Delhi each and opening up in other metros once the brand stabilized.
To be sure, the Network18 product came at a time when the print media isn’t exactly going through its best phase. According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2019, the print segment only grew 0.7% in 2018 to reach Rs. 305.5 billion and ad volumes fell 1% over the same period.