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Battleground Chennai: TOI to enter on April 14

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | April 08, 2008
The daily aims to be the clear No. 2 in Chennai after The Hindu

It has & #BANNER1 & # been three years now, since The Times of India (TOI) has been contemplating a Chennai edition. However, as the Mumbai battleground started heating up with the launch of DNA and HT, its entire focus shifted to the Old city of Boribunder. The Chennai edition was expected to hit the stands in May 2005. Now that the Mumbai market is stabilised, TOI is shifting its focus on Chennai.

The Times of India is all set to launch a Chennai edition on April 14. Confirming the news to agencyfaqs!, Rahul Kansal, brand director, The Times of India, says, "The current leader (The Hindu) has quite a conservative approach. We hope to bring in vibrancy and a more youthful approach in the English print market in Chennai."

Kansal refused to divulge the cover price and the initial print run of the TOI in Chennai. However, as per industry sources, the paper has already started a subscription drive, offering a year's subscription for Rs 299, and six months' worth for Rs 170.

Rahul Kansal
The Chennai edition will also have a local, lifestyle oriented supplement - Chennai Times - along the lines of Delhi Times and Mumbai Times. "The paper will have not less than 40 pages," says Kansal.

Asked how the paper would take on the competition, Kansal says TOI is launching the Chennai edition, not to wean away "Hindu readers, but instead, to look at an opportunity to expand the market by becoming the second newspaper in homes. The younger people, who set up new homes, should look at TOI as their first option."

He adds, "The language papers, too, are competition when you are looking to expand the market."

A building wrapped in newsprint in Chennai
The Hindu, as per ABC figures for July-December 2007, has an average net paid sales circulation of 2,80,473 in Chennai, while Deccan Chronicle is only 23,555 copies behind at 2,56,918 copies.

It is to be noted that around two years ago, Deccan Chronicle was launched in Chennai at an invitational cover price of Re 1, which was raised to Rs 1.50 later. However, in upcountry markets, the cover price Monday to Saturday continues to be Re 1. The Hindu sells for Rs 3.25 on weekdays and Rs 4.50 on Sundays. The third English newspaper in the market is The New Indian Express, which prints about 66,000 copies (ABC, July-December 2007) in Chennai.

The TOI's Chennai edition is being targeted at SEC A and B in the 23-30 years' age group.

Men in newsprint on Chennai streets
The newspaper had an outdoor teaser campaign, which had buildings, vans and men on the streets, all wrapped in newsprint, with the words Next Change? emblazoned on them. The campaign is being handled by JWT Chennai.

How will the Chennai edition be different from TOI's other editions? Kansal says, "Wherever TOI has gone, it has gone with a federal approach and not with a national approach. We believe in localisation of content and the Chennai edition too will be strong on localisation. It's a huge opportunity for us to take up local issues."

TOI already has a presence in South India with editions in Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The parent company, Bennett, Coleman and Co., already has a presence in Chennai with The Economic Times (ET), which prints close to 43,000 copies in the metropolis, as per ABC figures for July-December 2007. This will certainly make it easier for it leverage its distribution network to push TOI. The other possibility is that it will bundle TOI with ET.