Anil Thakraney: Deccan Herald’s Mission Impossible

12 Dec,2011

By Anil Thakraney

 

Having learnt to live a life in India where just about anything is possible, nothing ever unnerves me. But I must say I woke up on Sunday morning to rather shocking news, it totally rattled me. No, not that Anna Sahib is going on another fast (that’s no news, really), but that Bangalore’s Deccan Herald has launched a Delhi edition. To be honest, I am still reeling from this totally sensational khabar.

 

Here are few reasons why the Deccan Herald simply CANNOT be undertaking this suicidal mission: One, newspapers are closing down all over the world. And India, because of its massive reading population and a continuous flow of new readers, will survive this danger for some more years. But closures will happen, it’s only a matter of time. In fact, quite ironically, Deccan Herald’s foray into Delhi comes close on the heels of Mid Day’s closure out there. Given that, prudence lies in beefing up strong editions and putting all the resources into your main markets, so that the demise can be postponed as much as possible. One would imagine that the proprietors of the Deccan Herald would go all out to spruce up their Bangalore edition. And what do they do? They go to Delhi! Wow!

 

Next. Delhi is a very crowded newspaper market, and it’s pretty much dominated by the very deep pocket wallahs, the TOI and the HT. It took the Times many years and lots of moolah before it could manage to eat into HT’s market share. And there are other cash rich players too. In this fish market scenario bravely trots in the low profile southern Deccan Herald, hoping to make a dent in the market. And from what I know, owners of the DH aren’t exactly loaded like the owners of the TOI and the HT, so they will always struggle to get noticed.

 

And finally, what sort of freshness can the DH bring to an alien territory? The name ‘Deccan’ itself cues south of India. Why would a Dilliwallah be interested in finding out from a southie what’s going on in his backyard. And where he must wine and dine. Makes no editorial sense at all.

 

Well, all I can say is that the publishers of the Deccan Herald are either being very brave. Or very foolish. Either way, let’s wish them luck. They’ll need loads of it.

 

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PS: Some of the more enterprising ex-O&M guys organised an agency reunion in Mumbai last week. To catch up and mark David Ogilvy’s 100th centenary. Was fantastic meeting the old boys and gals, it felt like homecoming. I must say this: no reunion brings me as much joy as the one with the Ogilvy gang. Not school, not college, not other organization reunions. Must be Sir Ogilvy’s magical touch. Can’t think of another reason.

 

Anil Thakraney is a Mumbai-based columnist and commentator and is a former adman and editor. He is Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own.

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One response to “Anil Thakraney: Deccan Herald’s Mission Impossible”

  1. Ananda Puranik says:

    They dint quite guard their turf when the old lady came visiting and ab Dill chal diye

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