On December 9, 2002, Dainik Bhaskar launched its twentieth edition in the city of Nagpur, marking its foray into the eighth state, Maharashtra. Apart from this western Indian state, Bhaskar shows a presence in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, giving it a combined readership of 1.31 crore according to NRS 2002, and 1.36 crore according to round one of the IRS 2002.
Speaking about the group's current initiative, Kailash Agarwal, MD, Dainik Bhaskar, Nagpur, says, "Our analysis of the market shows that there is scope for one more Hindi paper. Navbharat and Lokmat Samachar, the two Hindi dailies in the region, have a total circulation of 63,000 according to ABC, whereas the readership is 4.8 lakh. Marathi dailies, on the other hand, account for 80,000 to 90,000 copies in circulation with a total readership of 5.2 lakh."
Interestingly, rivals Navbharat and Lokmat Samachar have their own circulation figures to present. Ajit Nair, DGM, Lokmat Group, claims that the circulation of Lokmat Samachar is 1.3 lakh in the Vidarbha region of which Nagpur accounts for the bulk with a figure of 1.02 lakh. The balance of 28,000 is distributed over the rest of Vidarbha. Navbharat, in contrast, has close to a lakh of copies in circulation in Nagpur, claims Henry D'Souza, president, Navbharat Group.
Despite these assertions, Agarwal maintains there was no real alternative for Hindi readers in Nagpur apart from Navbharat and Lokmat Samachar. "Both papers are one-sided, presenting the Congress point of view," he claims. "Readers wanted a neutral product - a need we have tried to address," he adds.
The Nagpur edition, according to Agarwal, consists of 18 pages with the main issue comprising 12 pages and the city edition, an additional six pages. Five supplements will be distributed with the paper during the week including Zero Mile Plus on Mondays, Madhurima on Wednesdays, Balbhaskar on Fridays, Navrang on Saturdays and Rasrang on Sundays. Balbhaskar, the kid's supplement, will be alternated with Udhaan, the educational supplement every fortnight.
The paper has been priced at Rs 1.50, which, Agarwal claims, is in line with its main competitor Navbharat, which is also available at the same price. Incidentally, the price war between Navbharat and Lokmat Samachar a few months ago, saw both dailies slashing their rates to Re 1 from Rs 2.50. Subsequently however, Navbharat increased its cover price by 50 paise, maintaining that circulation did not suffer in the process.
Whatever the fallout, there is no denying that Bhaskar's entry will heighten competition in the region. One column centimetre of space (black and while) in Bhaskar's main issue, for instance, is priced at Rs 250, compared to Navbharat's Rs 325. Ad rates in the city edition are more competitive - at Rs 190 in Navbharat's Mahanagar (per column centimetre, b/w) against Bhaskar's Rs 150 (whereas a colour cc of space has a price tag of Rs 175 in Bhaskar's city edition). Agarwal also maintains that the ad-to-edit ratio across editions is 30:70 with advertisements never crossing 40 per cent of space in any given paper.
Confirmed paid up circulation, he reiterates, is 92,387 for the Nagpur edition with the city alone accounting for 48,562 copies and the balance 43,825 copies distributed over the rest of Vidarbha. "We achieved this target through order bonds booked in advance," he adds.
Besides Nagpur, the paper will be distributed in the adjoining areas of Buldhana, Akola, Amravati, Vashim, Yavatmal, Wardha, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondhia and Gadchiroli. It will also feed districts such as Chindwada, Shivni and Balaghat in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. © 2002 agencyfaqs!