‘Print still rules Nepal media’

22 Feb,2018

 

The Kantipur Media Group is Nepal’s largest media conglomerate with a strong presence in print, radio and television and a growing footprint in digital too. As KMG celebrates its silver jubilee year, MxMIndia caught up with KMG Business Head Mahesh Swar when he was in Mumbai recently and discussed his plans for the group, the outlook for print vis-à-vis other media and whether KMG is looking at expanding to India given the large Nepalese population here. Excerpts from an interview

 

Congratulations on the the Kantipur Media Group completing 25 years this year. Tell us more about your plans for the celebrations.

As Nepal’s leading media group, with presence across mediums, we believe we are more of a content provider. Hence, there are big plans for the 25th year celebration. We are organising an international conclave to mark the year. The conclave will help create the roadmap of Nepal for the future—the next 5, 10 and 25 years. Well, we will be doing various activities to mark occasion. Other than this, we will be having an award ceremony known as Kantipur Icon, where people with stellar track records from a range of sectors—socio-political, social, business, sports, arts and sciences—will be honoured. The idea is to give the message that we are more than just a media house. We are seen as an integral part of the Nepali life and we believe it is responsibility to honor the faith bestowed on us by the public.

 

As Nepal’s biggest media group – with interests across media – print, television, radio and digital – how do you see the media ecosystem growing in Nepal?

The media ecosystem is evolving in Nepal with change in digital penetration and affordability. Currently, print is still the largest player in the media industry but there are lots of big investments taking place in television industry as well. As a group, we are quite aware of this changing ecosystem and we have already started investment in unconventional medias that involves digital marketing, influential marketing and social media ecosystem.

 

With the Left Alliance in power in Nepal, do you see any significant shift in policies leading to better times for the media?

Nepal drafted its new constitution in 2015 and we just held the three tiers of elections—of federal parliament, provincial assemblies and local bodies—our first under the federal structure.  Whoever comes to the government, the new constitution guarantees press freedom. We are hopeful that the newgovernment will support the media industry.The political stability the new government bring can’t be overstressed. It will enjoy a comfortable majority in the federal Parliament.

 

Will the stability help boost the economy and hence the media spending?

Yes, after latest elections, we expect a very stable government.Nepal registered a healthy 7.5% growth in 2016/17 despite high degree of a political instability. A stable government, we expect, will help further boost our economy. It will bring more confidenceto the investors and consumers alike. This will mean many new products and services offerings in the country which in turn will ensure the growth in media spending. We are very optimistic about the growth in mediabusinessin the upcoming years.

 

The Nepal market is one of the few in world where print earns a majority of the adrevenue? What, according to you, contributes to this, especially since television and digital have gained much ground across the world?

That’s a very interesting question. Nepal is alsogradually tilting towards the digital media. However, almost 60% of the population still lives in rural areas, where internet penetration is relatively low andthe overall cost of data is very high in Nepali market. Although urban youth are consuming high quantity YouTube Videos and social media, the traditional media still has a very strong presence in Nepal.

There’s also a larger issue at work here. Nepali people associate the broadsheet newspapers as more than mere information peddlers. These papers enjoy a high degree of public trust and hence have huge influence on the national politics. When we talk about the Kantipur Media Group, print media has played pivotal role in shaping the new Nepal. KMG publications—KantipurDaily, The Kathmandu Post, Nepal magazine—are seen as integral part of the country’s pro-democracy and social movements. The role as free press and guardians of democracy and liberalism are uncontested. In 1993, KantipurDaily and The Post started as Nepal’s first broadsheet daily newspapers in the private sector and their position as market leaders in shaping public opinion remain unchallenged.

 

In India, for instance, while print is a close second to television in terms of adspends, digital is the fastest growing medium. How is digital doing in Nepal?

Print is the largest contributor in Nepal with 55% market share of the advertising revenue followed by television, which contributes about 25% of the ad revenue. Yes, digital is growing fast but the base of the digital media is very small as of now. Hence, it does not significantly affect the total media revenue.

As per the AAN (Advertising Association of Nepal), the print share of ad revenue is 55%, TV 25%, digital 5% , OHH 4%  and BTL 15% .

 

So what brings you to India?

The media industry in general is passing through a transition. After the emergence of digital medium, the traditional media all over the world is on a roller-coaster ride. Our market is not exceptional but we at least have the luxury to learn from more developed market like yours next door. Obviously, I am here to learn about, and from, the Indian media industry.

 

KMG is the largest media group in Nepal, and given a sizeable Nepali population in India today, any plans of setting up an edition for any of your publications here in India? Or perhaps reaching out to Nepalis in India via digital?

Indeed, there is a big and growing Nepali diaspora across the globe and India has the largest chunk of the overseas Nepalese population who are always looking to read/view news about Nepal. Kantipur’s digital wing, i.e., ekantipur.com, is hugely popular among Nepalis all over the world. However, we are now planning to have separate sections within the ekantipur site to cater to the Nepali population in such big destinations, as the US, the Middle East, Australia and India. We will be soon launching our promotional campaign targeting the Nepali diaspora.

 

 

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