Trends in Media

By Benny D’Souza, Mediaware Infotech Pvt. Ltd.

Alive And Kickin’
When television made its appearance in 1973 (in India), many media watchers set off an alarm. ‘Print is dead’ they said. Years later, with the advent of satellite broadcasting, when the country got cable-wired the doomsayers once again started nodding their heads.

But history has proved them wrong. And Gutenberg the father of the printing press, in his wildest dreams probably never imagined that his invention would so influence mankind.

Indian Print – Happening Medium
The last 2 years itself have seen the launch of a spate of Indian publications.

The launch of Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar created a market furor. While regional newspapers continued to launch ever-increasing number of editions, Reliance Group has forayed into print with Harmony, edited by the younger bahu. (Their earlier buy-out of The Sunday Observer ended in a minor embarassment.) Not to be outdone, the Essar group is all set to launch Time Out.

The advertising industry has seen Media, Pitch, USP Age, Brand Reporter & Impact launched in quick succession. Add the two ‘India’ specific pages in the Hong Kong based ‘Media’ and it looks like a crowded genre.

Last April also saw the launch of Tarun Tejpal’s print offering – Tehelka – after a much-hyped prologue, which sought the involvement of would-be-readers.

Last year also witnessed a host of special interest publications. Chitralekha for example, launched “International Watch Review”. Along with a host of special interest publications. (Leading Gujarati magazine Chitralekha for example, launched “International Watch Review”.)

This year, Mumbai based Midday group launched their quick-read morning newspaper “Morning Quick”. (A flanking move against Times of India?)

The advertising industry has seen Media, Pitch, USP Age, Brand Reporter & Impact launched in quick succession. And free publications are growing in number with practically one in every major city. (Including Lucknow!)

Catching ‘em Young
Newspapers like The Times of India & Hindustan Times meanwhile, have initiated the process of selling school editions of their dailies to primary school students. This will not only increase its paid circulation (individual subscription forms counter-signed by parents will satisfy stringent ABC regulations) but also develop the habit of reading newspapers from a young age!

The Hindustan Times has also tried to “stem the decline in newspaper-reading among the youth” with a 14 page daily titled “HT NEXT”.

At the same time, New Delhi based NGO Butterflies has launched The National Children’s Times. Not withstanding their imminent foray into television, The Times of India Group’s focus on print medium quite clearly, is very strong.

There are strong indications nay expectations, that Hindustan Times will raise its standard in Mumbai. Of course, the old lady of Bori Bunder should be worried.

Meanwhile, competition amongst regional newspapers continues unabated. Dainik Bhaskar is a case study that amply illustrates ambition, skill & the ability to spot opportunity. After successfully establishing it’s brand in key Hindi market Rajasthan and upstaging the established leader, the group launched sibling brand Divya Bhaskar in Gujarat to unsettle the 2 traditional leaders. (A few years ago, this was as unimaginable as 9/11!)

Foreign Brands
Many Indian publishing houses are waiting for the new Govt’s policy on FDI in the print media. Just as international publishing houses are waiting for the Government to raise the green flag. Some foreign mastheads have even tried to launch their Indian editions through loopholes. International Herald Tribune is a case in point.

The Future
The advent of a score of Indian News Channels has had little effect on the circulation of most major dailies. Perhaps the answer is a combination of reduced cover price, enhanced literacy & increasing disposable income. Along with a pressing need to stay informed.

The allure of print is as strong as ever. Walk into a magazine stall and you are assailed with a wide

range of choices. Franchising, Outdoor Advertising, Point of Purchase design, Strategic marketing, Car & Bike magazines – there’s a magazine for every imaginable subject! And not just in English.

Indian publishers have become savvier. Outlook readers’ response to travel features gave shape to “Outlook Traveller”. While Dainik Bhaskar has perfected the art of pre-launch market surveys conducted by their own Marketing Dept – as a pre-cursor to designing their content. And Times of India, Hindustan Times catch the young readers. Not withstanding any foray into television, most newspapers’ retain a strong focus on print medium.

For the present at least, it looks like man’s love for the printed word is not diminishing !

Compiled by Mediaware Infotech Pvt. Ltd.
Vol 04, Issue 33, August 16, 2004