IMC 2008: 186 foreign magazines expected to launch Indian editions

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 23, 2008
Sushma Singh, secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, announced at the Indian Magazine Congress 2008 that the Indian print industry was among the fastest growing sectors in the country

At the & #BANNER1 & # Indian Magazine Congress 2008 held in Mumbai on Monday, stalwarts of the magazine industry exchanged perspectives and debated on various topics concerning the fraternity.

Maheshwar Peri, president, Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), and publisher, Outlook Group, set the tone of the gathering.

Peri listed out a few pointers that the association has on the agenda for the forthcoming year. A new, robust readership survey was top priority on the list, and Peri said that the association was working towards this.

Distribution is another area that the industry hopes to address. "With more and more roadside vendors being forced to shut down, distribution will be affected. We, as an industry, need to facilitate the idea of licensed magazine kiosks," he urged.

Maheshwar Peri

Sushma Singh
AIM will also work towards selling magazines as a category and getting it in the primary consideration set of advertisers. Peri raised concerns over the means of innovation being adopted by print publications. "Innovations at the cost of credibility or inconvenience to the readers need to be discouraged," he stated. He also urged the government to include "magazines" and define it under the Companies Act, a status which is long overdue.

Sushma Singh, secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, had the audience in high spirits, as she declared that the print industry was one of the fastest growing sectors and that the government has had a significant role to play in liberalizing and creating the necessary environment for this growth.

The Union Cabinet has now decided to allow Indian editions of foreign periodicals in the news and current affairs segment, through 26 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI). As per I&B's basic structure, foreign news and current affairs were not allowed to be published in India, owing to sensitive issues. "News and current affairs is a sensitive sector since it affects law and order and public order. Hence, we need to exercise caution," Singh said.

After much discussion and deliberation with the Ministries of Home and External Affairs, the Union Cabinet has given its approval. However, certain sections of the media have demanded that the FDI limit be increased. Singh said the government does not intend to act on this immediately. Instead, it will have more consultations with the stakeholders.

The government allows 100 per cent FDI in non-news and current affairs magazines, which includes specialty magazines and technical and scientific periodicals. Around 186 Indian editions of foreign magazines are expected to be launched next year, said Singh. In March 2007, there were 65,000 newspapers and periodicals being published in India. Singh said the Indian print media industry is expected to grow by 16 per cent over 2007.

The Indian Magazine Congress 2008 was organised in association with Worldwide Movies (WWM). The theme of the Congress this year was: Where Is the Next Big Opportunity?