TOI contemplates cover price hike in some markets

By Dhaleta Surender Kumar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | December 31, 2008
The Times of India and The Economic Times are likely to increase their cover price by 50 paise in some markets

After & #BANNER1 & # The Hindu raised its cover price from Rs 2.50 to Rs 3 in New Delhi on December 16, other national dailies, too, are considering raising their cover price.

The Times of India's (TOI's) brand director, Rahul Kansal, confirms to afaqs! that the newspaper's cover price in markets such as Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai may be increased soon by 50 paise. This, he says, is "not being done to raise money, but to prevent people from buying it for the sake of 'raddi' (waste paper)."

"'Raddi' prices have gone up by 30-40 per cent in the recent past and we want to insulate the newspaper from the 'raddi' business," says Kansal.

Another official from Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, which owns TOI, says that the cover price may not be touched in Bengaluru because there is fresh competition entering that city with the launch there this month of DNA.

"In Mumbai, the cover price of TOI is already Rs 4, which was hiked from Rs 3.50 just a couple of months ago. So, another hike is not feasible there," says the official.

No definite date was given by the officials for the hike.

What about Delhi? Kansal says that he is not sure if the cover price will be raised in Delhi. However, some newspaper distributors in Delhi claim that they've been told (by company officials) that the "cover prices of TOI and Hindustan Times (HT) will be raised from Rs 2.50 to Rs 3 on weekdays and from Rs 4.50 to Rs 5 on Sundays from January 1, 2009."

When afaqs! contacted Neelanjan Shome, group chief marketing officer, HT Media, he declined to comment on this.

Kansal says that the cover price of The Economic Times, too, will be raised by 50 paise in most markets.

The print industry is under tremendous pressure because of the declining ad inventories resulting from the economic slowdown and increasing newsprint costs. According to industry sources, the price of newsprint (the demand for which is met mostly by imports) has gone up by 80 per cent in the past one year. It has come down in the last two months from US$950 to US$800 per tonne, but the decline has had little impact because in the meanwhile, the rupee has weakened against the dollar.

Kansal may be right in aiming to insulate the newspaper from the 'raddi' business because waste newspaper prices, according to sources, have gone up from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 a tonne.