After consolidating its position in Gujarat, the next
destination for Divya Bhaskar is Mumbai. The Gujarati paper, which has a satellite edition in the commercial capital, is looking to launch a full-fledged edition in the city later this year.
The current Mumbai edition consists of 36 pages and is priced at Rs 2.50 on weekdays and Rs 3 on weekends. The edition, however, sees very few local news. This will increase once it becomes full-fledged.
"Right now, the satellite edition is dependent on the Ahmedabad edition of Divya Bhaskar. This will change when a full-fledged Mumbai edition is launched," says Bharat Kapadia, executive director of the paper.
Competition for Divya Bhaskar in Mumbai comes from well-entrenched players such as Bombay Samachar and Gujarat Samachar. The tabloid Gujarati Mid-Day too has a strong readership in the city.
Bombay Samachar, incidentally, revised its cover price last week from Rs 2.50 (weekdays) and Rs 3 (weekends) to Rs 3 and Rs 3.50, respectively. Gujarat Samachar, however, continues to hawk at the same price, which is Rs 2.50 (weekdays) and Rs 3 (weekends), respectively. This price is constant across its six editions, which include Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, and, of course, Mumbai.
Archrival group, Sandesh, meanwhile, hawks at an average of about Rs 2.50 per day in Gujarat. Divya Bhaskar has a variable pricing policy, available at Rs 1.50 (weekdays) and Rs 2 (weekends) in Ahmedabad and Rajkot, and Rs 2 (on all days) in Baroda and Surat. In Bhavnagar, the Bhaskar group's presence is assured through Saurashtra Samachar, which it acquired last year. This paper is priced at Rs 2 on all seven days of the week.
Apart from its Mumbai plans, the Bhaskar group had some reason to cheer with the recently released NRS 2005 pegging the overall readership of Divya Bhaskar at 51.32 lakh. Round 1 of IRS 2005 put the readership of Divya Bhaskar at 31.64 lakh (the Baroda edition was not included in the survey).
Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh, on the other hand, stand at 59.09 lakh (excluding Mumbai) and 37.64 lakh as per the current NRS. The IRS (round 1) 2005 figures for the two papers are as follows: Gujarat Samachar: 52.11 lakh (excluding Mumbai) and Sandesh: 37.65 lakh.
Kapadia of Bhaskar attributes the increase in readership to market expansion and increase in female readership. "We have been able to grow the market since our first venture in 2003. Plus, we have a higher number of female readers than Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh," he explains.
Besides the spurt in readership, Divya Bhaskar has another reason to celebrate. Today is the newspaper's second anniversary. Two years ago on this day, the newspaper's Ahmedabad edition was launched.
To mark the occasion, the paper has lined up multiple activities such as blood donation camps, contests etc under 'Divya Utsav'. A compendium of 100 notable Gujarati citizens will also be released to commemorate the publication's two-year existence. "This list excludes political and religious leaders," Kapadia clarifies. On the anvil are several editorial 'changes'. "These changes will happen over the next three months," he promises.
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