Media war imminent in Mumbai

IN Media Practice | 12/04/2005
Besides an inevitable price war, the launch of new newspapers will also see unveiling of innovative marketing techniques to grab advertising revenues.


Indo-Asian News Service



Sumeet Chatterjee                                                     


Mumbai, April 9 (IANS) A fierce battle to corner a larger share of the print media pie in the country`s business and entertainment hub is set to unfold in the months ahead with the launch of at least three new English newspapers.

Media watchers say besides an inevitable subscription price war, the launch of new newspapers will also see unveiling of innovative marketing techniques to grab a significant portion of the advertising revenues.

While the Times of India is all set to launch a city-specific paper named Bombay Mirror next month, its arch business rival the Hindustan Times is to start publishing a local edition from July.

Besides these two, Zee Telefilms is also gearing up to foray into the newspaper publication business in a tie-up with the Dainik Bhaskar group in September this year.

"A joint venture Diligent Media has been formed to run the English newspaper business. The paper has been named as DNA," said Ashish Kaul, vice president (corporate brand development) of Essel Group, which owns Zee Telefilms.

"The newspaper will be launched in Mumbai first and after establishing our presence here we will plan to launch various editions in different parts of the country," Kaul told IANS.

"Our aim is to become a market leader in the city and we are investing a lot in the initial phase to find out what people want in their newspaper. Over a period of three years, we intend to invest Rs.8 billion."

The Zee-Dainik Bhaskar combine has already launched an advertisement blitz across the city with an investment of over Rs.500 million for its proposed newspaper. Kaul said the joint venture was well positioned to compete with other publications for the top slot due to its finance, marketing and industry knowledge muscles.

"While Zee already has a good brand visibility and marketing expertise, the Bhaskar group will bring their domain knowledge and technology on board. It`s a win-win arrangement for both of us," he said.

Besides major interests in newspaper publications business, the Dainik Bhaskar group`s other business presence includes cable TV industry. The partners propose to position DNA as a general newspaper for English reading households.

Speculation of Zee Telefilms foraying into the print media had gained ground for the last few months after Pradeep Guha resigned from the post of president in the Times Group to join electronic media major as chief executive officer.

Guha, who was associated with the Times Group for the last three decades, assumed his new office in January. During his stint with the Times Group, Guha headed the sales and marketing functions and spearheaded the `page three` culture in
India with the launch of Bombay Times.

Meanwhile, the Times of India and the Hindustan Times are also believed to be bracing up to face the competition in the months ahead. Both the publications have completed top-level recruitments.

According to industry estimates, currently the English newspaper subscription base in this city of 16 million people is just 750,000. Major English paper publications are the Times of
India, Indian Express and Asian Age.

"The English paper readership base will definitely expand with the entry of new players. Subscription prices are bound to come down and this will have an impact on readership base," said a media watcher, who didn`t want to be named.

"Since Mumbai is the biggest advertisement market in the country, the battle to pocket a larger share of the advertising revenues will be very brutal."

Indo-Asian News Service

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