Bennett Coleman & Company Limited (BCCL), in collaboration with Kerala's No. 2 Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, will launch its flagship English daily The Times of India (TOI) in Kerala, on February 1. The daily was originally expected to make its entry in Kerala in mid-2011.
As per the strategic tie-up between BCCL and Mathrubhumi, the two media entities will work in tandem across response, content and circulation departments. The TOI will use Mathrubhumi's distribution network that has 11,000 agents spread across Kerala.
The TOI will bear the same cover price of Rs 4, as that of Mathrubhumi. However, the combo offer will allow readers to purchase the TOI and Mathrubhumi together for Rs 6, with the TOI's cover price reduced to Rs 2, while, Mathrubhumi will be available for Rs 4 for the combo subscribers. "This will maximise the reach for both dailies. The TOI is aiming to be No. 1 English daily in the state from the very first day," says M V Shreyas Kumar, director, Mathrubhumi.
The TOI is targeting an initial print run of 1.5 lakh copies. According to Kumar, Mathrubhumi has a print order of 1.4 million copies in the state, and with the combo offer, the group is hopeful of seeing a sizeable increase in the print run of the Malayalam daily.
The TOI will introduce its regular supplements in the state, and apart from that, the TOI and Mathrubhumi will jointly come out with two new weekly supplements titled Mathrubhumi Times Accent, and Mathrubhumi Education Times across three cities namely Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode. Though the content of these two supplements will be in English, the ads will be in both English and Malayalam.
For the record, until October 1998, the TOI held around 400 shares (close to 20 per cent shares) in Mathrubhumi since late 1987. The former sold its stakes to the family of M P Veerendrakumar, managing director of Mathrubhumi, following a legal dispute.