INMA 2011: Readership, Rate Cards & a small newspaper’s success

08 Nov,2011

By Tuhina Anand


On Day 1 of INMA-5th South Asia Annual Conference, there was a CEO Roundtable which saw discussion on the topic: ‘Have we reached an end to readership growth?’ The session was moderated by Bhaskar Das, President, The Times of India Group and on the panel were Sanjay Gupta, Director, CEO and Editor, Jagran Prakashan Ltd, KN Tilak Kumar, Joint Managing Directorand Editor, Deccan Herald, Shahrukh Hasan, Group Managing Director, Jang Group Pakistan and Tariq Ansari, MD, Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd.


Mr Das started the session by saying that it’s a known fact that the newspaper business is undergoing challenging times and one of them is about finding a balance between a content that caters to a diverse age group at many Indian homes and remaining relevant. He also remarked that if one is bothered about physical readership when a consumer is accessing media through various touch points, shouldn’t virtual readership also be considered? He also questioned the merit of measurement vis -a-vis frequency and periodicity.


Mr Ansari said, “The truth is that the readership of urban English newspaper has reached a plateau and the growth in terms of numbers in SEC C and D but the question is if that category is also the one which advertisers would be interested in and then the answer becomes doubtful.”


The session also looked at growing readership in a new market with an old product as well as raised question on the need to show yoy growth of readership where in actuality it should be yoy growth of advertiser?


In all this grim scenario, Titak Kumar of DH brought the example of Karnataka language daily which has been seeing growth since both income and literacy levels have gone up.


Another staggering point that gives players to think about is the pricing of a newspaper. While in India, the you can get a newspaper even at Rs 1.50, Shahrukh Hasan from Jang Group pointed that in Pakistan the paper would cost anywhere between Rs 15-23 and yet not cover its production cost.


The idea that emerged was to innovate and seize the opportunity in the industry today. Also if multiple touch points is the new reality how does one update, upgrade and monetize from these various platforms.


In another session, the panel discussed, ‘The Advertising Challenge: Space Selling in the Age of Multiple Platforms and Vanishing Rate Card’. On the panel were, Ambika Srivastava, Chairperson, ZenithOptimedia and Vivaki Exchange, Bijou Kurien, President and Chief Executive, Lifestyle, Reliance Retail, Jayen Mehta, GM, Marketing, Gujarat, Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation, Rohit Gupta, President, Sony Entertainment Television, Bhaskar Das, President, The Times of India Group and Aritra Sarkar, VP, Strategy, ABP Pvt Ltd.


The panel discussed if the rates cards have a value and Ms Srivastava endorsed this view along with Bhaskar Das though he differed that the rate card can be in different format and packaged differently to create a value proposition. Mr Gupta however giving the TV industry side of the story was of the opinion that in his industry rate cards doesn’t apply as the window of opportunity is less in television and rates vary from deal to deal and client to client.


There was another session on ‘Good Editorial Content and Credibility are Good Business Also’  where Harisvansh, Chief Editor, Prabhat Khabar took the audience on the journey of success of the newspaper which is through doing hard hitting, pro people stories that have brought transformation in the lives of a common man. For them its trust and credibility that has paid off and just like Indian Captain MSD who is also from Ranchi like Prabhat Khabar both have emerged victorious by being dependable.

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