WMC 2011: We have to be innovators as much as publishers: Aroon Purie

12 Oct,2011

By Shruti Pushkarna

 

Addressing delegates at the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress in New Delhi, Aroon Purie, FIPP

Chairman and Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India Today, said much had changed since he first joined FIPP at the Paris World Magazine Congress 2000. He believes, “India has arrived at the world stage and the fact that the World Magazine Congress is being held in Delhi is a reflection of that.” Mr Purie leaves the chairmanship of FIPP at the end of the Congress.

 

Compared to 2000, when the Indian media space had not opened up to the world, in 2011, the media space in India is bustling with activity. With 10, 500 newspapers and 58,100 magazines registered in this country, Mr Purie emphasized, “Although newspapers are shutting down in most parts of the world, and most cities have only one newspaper; in a place like Delhi, you can get 16 English newspapers delivered to your doorstep and there are 10 Hindi language newspapers. I don’t think that’s possible anywhere in the world.”

 

The demographics in the Indian market, assured Mr Purie, will make any publisher “salivate”. We have 22 official languages which means you have that many more languages to publish in. In that sense, we are like Europe, except Europe has a population of only 739 million and ours is 1.2 billion.”

 

India, Purie further added, is a country “straddles many centuries simultaneously”. “That is our

uniqueness in a way. Not far from here you’re likely to see a bullock cart on the road next to a Bentley, both stuck in the same traffic jam. So it is in the media space. We happily straddle digital as well as traditional media and both are growing rapidly.”

 

Citing the latest numbers, Mr Purie added, “Consider that magazine advertising is slated to grow by

a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent for the next five years. Internet connectivity, although

now low in terms of penetration, still has 100 million people accessing the net. This is expected to grow to 237 million by 2015. Smartphones now constitute only 5 to 6 percent of the total phones but this is expected to grow to a 25 percent by 2015. India has 31 million Facebook users which makes India the third largest market for Facebook. India is a country rich with promise.”

 

But the uniqueness of Indian market does not take away the need to innovate. Mr Purie recalled, “When I took over FIPP two years ago as the Chairman, the mood among publishers was truly dismal. It was like watching terminal cancer patients just biting their time. There is now an aggressive optimism and a growing realization that the new technology is not a cancer but one of those injections that offer rejuvenation.”

 

Mr Purie believes that tablets will be both “the saviour and the biggest challenge for magazine publishers”. “For us to succeed we have to know now to design content for eyes, fingers and ears too, and provide an immersive experience to our consumers,” he said.

 

Drawing a parallel with this year’s theme, ‘The 360 Opportunity’, Mr Purie reiterated the need to

integrate the traditional models of content with new technology and new platforms.

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