afaqs!

Monica Nayyar Patnaik: Rising cost of newsprint to hamper growth of language publications

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi and Mumbai | In Media | February 10, 2011

According to me, the topic on every language publication's lips, in 2011, will be expansion. This year, the focus will be on reaching out to the people at the grassroots level.

District-level editions will be the biggest trend among the language print media. The rise of regional newspapers, triggered by the likes of Eenadu a few decades ago, will continue to grow and this time the focus will be on reaching the rural population - which is still untapped - through a local connecting thread such as the block-, tehsil- or ward-specific editions.

With the economic situation of the country getting back on track and the M&E industry growing, the language publications too will grow. The language dailies, in all likelihood, will reach a level from where they will be able to tap a large section of the readers based in the far-flung remote areas.

At Sambad, we have eight editions but many of them have split editions, which make it 15 in total. They cover the semi urban-rural areas of Odisha extensively. I think that's what language dailies across the country should aim for this year.

The biggest thing to happen at Sambad this year will be what I call My Modernisation Plan. We will install an offset printing facility with advanced colour technology and it will be the first one in Odisha.

A revamp of our printing centres will help us split the editions in a more efficient manner. We have four printing centres and are in the process of expanding it to six to eight centres. The major obstacle that can come in the way of the growth of language publications is the rising cost of newsprint and consumable supplies.

Newsprint prices is sold at around `35,000 per metric ton and I hear that the prices will increase soon again. We are in a fix because of this. When your readership is limited, how are you going to survive if the prices keep going through the roof? Language publications will be forced to reduce the number of pages and with that the ads and content will also fall. Things will get tough for the local dailies. You cannot give good news coverage because you cannot afford it.

To read about other print media professionals, click here.