reality check time for the Indian print media on the first day of the two day International Newspaper Marketing Association Summit. In the second session, called 'Growing Profitability Through Joint Ventures', two distinguished speakers, Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media Ltd, and Sanjay Gupta, CEO and editor, 'Dainik Jagran', attempted to convince the large gathering that the Indian print industry is a sunrise sector rather than a sunset one, as in most developed nations. Interestingly, the two speakers represented two prominent Indian newspapers which have tie-ups with international brands('The Wall Street Journal', 'WSJ', and Yahoo, respectively).
Verma defined Indian print as a "red ocean" where "some media businesses have enjoyed monopolistic power thanks to financial muscle". But, he said, the situation was all set to change with the media space having opened up like never before, thanks to easy credit availability. "People say that print hardly has four-five years left in it, but I think print is hardly exploited in the country and can keep moving upward for another three-four decades, if not more. With low literacy and low penetration, print has a long way to go," said Verma.
Verma brought out the point of how HT Media's association with 'WSJ' has helped its new financial daily, 'Mint', grab a head-start in a market that already had three-four players. "We are really happy with the response 'Mint' has received in Delhi and Mumbai and, surely, 'WSJ's expertise has made us stand apart in the crowded market," he said.
Verma touched upon how non-print activities would play an important part in future growth, especially the Internet. "We have big plans for the Internet as it is one medium which is all set to explode. The Internet might have a low penetration of 3 per cent, but not in metro India. The Internet is growing as fast in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai as it has grown in other Asian or European countries in the past. We are keeping tabs on it."
Gupta admitted that the group still gets 95 per cent of its revenue from print, but he was very bullish on other media as the company heads towards its longterm goal of becoming a cross-media company, rather than a print company. "It's difficult to sell a package deal to advertisers, but if all features in the package become palatable, no advertiser will be able to resist the combo."
Both speakers highlighted how every media company has to adopt a 360 degree approach to survive the cut-throat competition in the media space. In their words, it would be the "survival of the fittest as even the ones with financial muscle have to continuously evolve to claim their share of the pie".