Rajasthan Patrika, the Hindi daily published out of 10 cities (nine are from the state of Rajasthan whereas the tenth is from Bangalore) with a circulation of 6-lakh-plus copies, is set to flex its muscles in Gujarat come August 11, 2002. According to Gulab Kothari, editor and managing director, Rajasthan Patrika Pvt Ltd, the group plans to launch a Hindi national daily in Ahmedabad that will target 'the cosmopolitan section' of the population. "There is no Hindi paper that looks at this particular segment and we felt there is a market for us out here," claims Kothari. Incidentally, rival Dainik Bhaskar is also firming up plans to set foot on Gujarati soil and is apparently 'closely monitoring Patrika', say industry sources.
Patrika's new edition will consist of 16 pages with the front and back pages in colour. It will be priced at Rs 2.50 with an initial print run of 50,000 copies. The group hopes to clock circulation in excess of a lakh-and-a-half within a year in Gujarat with the addition of two more editions in Surat and Baroda. "The number of Hindi-reading families in Surat is pretty high. If Bhilwara is the Manchester of Rajasthan, Surat is the Manchester of Gujarat. These two should help us cross the 1.5-lakh mark," reiterates Amitabh Sharma, Patrika's marketing manager in Mumbai.
Explaining the significance of the launch date, Sharma emphasises that its selection has more to do with "national integration" than anything else. "We've had a long legacy in this regard and we felt that launching out of the capital city when independence is just round the corner would bolster that spirit." Interestingly, the group did conduct a three-month market study to try and understand the reader profile among other things. "The study did throw up some explosive findings, which made us realise that we needed to launch a Hindi daily with immediate effect," adds Sharma.
The editor of the new edition, which hopes to thrive on a heavy dose of local content, is Rajendra Naruka. "The infrastructure is already in place and we would solicit business from national advertisers," he says. "A multiple-state package is bound to help us while approaching advertisers," he adds.
However, with the Gujarat market dominated by regional papers - such as Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh - is there space for a local Hindi daily? "We don't have any competition as such. While our target audience is the Hindi-speaking individual of any denomination, they (Samachar and Sandesh) look at a different set of people altogether," he adds. To the specific question of whether competition will hot up with the entry of Bhaskar, Sharma responds, "We do see competition getting hot, but it won't be as hot as Rajasthan."
Incidentally, the circulation of the paper has grown by around 27 per cent from around 4.75 lakh a few years ago to over 6 lakh with 10 full-fledged editions and 22 satellite editions. Moreover, with 38,000 villages scattered across the state of Rajasthan, Sharma claims that the group's distribution spread comprising a network of hawkers and agents among others can take care of the impending need. "We aimed to have 32 editions for the 32 districts in the state. We have, in a way, achieved that by inserting pages within the main editions carrying information about the particular district in which it is distributed. In my opinion, competition only helps you grow," he adds. © 2002 agencyfaqs!