After much speculation and rumours, Delhi's leading
newspaper, Hindustan Times, is all set to enter the Mumbai market on July 14.
Confirming this development to agencyfaqs!, Anand Bhardwaj, vice-president, marketing, Hindustan Times, says, "The English daily will start with an initial print-run of 2 lakh copies."
He adds, "The entire strategy for the Mumbai market has been divided in three/four phases. In the initial phase - which will span over a year - we plan to get quality readers and not just readership, or circulation numbers. We want to create an image among the discerning English speaking readers of Mumbai first, and then look for the masses."
"As per our long term strategy, we want to create a positive and up-market image for the HT brand in Mumbai. We know that just by increasing our print-run exorbitantly, we could position ourselves as a mass brand. But we are not interested in that. We would target the masses only in the second or the third phase."
Bhardwaj disclosed that all the 40/45 pages will be locally produced, scotching rumours that only six/seven pages of local news will be produced in Mumbai. "We haven't decided on our Sunday magazine, Brunch, as yet. But if it is to be launched in Mumbai, it will be locally produced as well," he added.
"HT will be a 100% Mumbai paper. We are never going to cheat our readers by bringing in pages from other centres. The news pool will remain the same, but the design will be made-in-Mumbai. We have a 130-member editorial team for the Mumbai edition," he clarified.
He, however, declined to divulge details on the cover price of HT. "We do not want to let the competition react to our strategy before our launch," Bhardwaj said.
Talking about the HT-TOI relationship, which seems to be getting closer by the day, Bhardwaj says, "It's only a mutually beneficial relationship. We allowed Bennett, Coleman & Co to use to use our printing press in New Mumbai, and in return, they carried our advertisements. There is no other deal between us."
He refuted suggestions that HT and TOI have inked a no-poaching agreement. He also denied rumours that TOI and HT has agreed to share certain types of advertisements, as in the case of Mid Day and The Indian Express, and described suggestions that vendors will be pushing HT along with TOI and Mumbai Mirror as "untrue".
"BCCL is still our competitor. The only difference is that we are looking at a healthy competition from them. The HT advertisements that TOI is carrying is only limited to the launch period," he clarified.
Media analysts have expressed surprise that the two rivals are helping each other, and in the way TOI is providing a platform for HT to promote itself.
Chanakya, the ancient philosopher, had once said, "An enemy's enemy is a friend." Is that what's at work here to keep DNA at bay? We promise to keep you posted.
© 2005 agencyfaqs!