The lead Hindi newspaper of Jharkhand has donned the war paint.
For Prabhat Khabar, the recent entry of Dainik Jagran coupled with the growing threat from archrival Hindustan, which set foot around three years ago with the Ranchi edition, it's better obviously to be late than never.
The paper has recently inducted Arun Tyagi, erstwhile regional manager at Gujarat Samachar, Mumbai, as assistant general manager, marketing, in an effort to strengthen its regional offices especially in the key markets of Mumbai and Delhi. Tyagi will be responsible for both Mumbai and Delhi, with an increase in responsibility over time, says KK Goenka, general manager, Prabhat Khabar. "His induction strengthens the overall team, which comprises around 30 to 40 marketing executives," he adds.
The paper has, over the last two or three years, invested Rs 10 crore in developing its infrastructure especially in Ranchi and Jamshedpur with a revamp on the cards in neighbouring Patna, where the daily is No 3, after Hindustan and Jagran.
To put things in perspective, Prabhat Khabar, a 19-year old Hindi daily with an overall circulation of 1.93 lakh copies in the state of Jharkhand, has three key editions in Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Ranchi, whose figures, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, for the period of January-June 2003, stands at 28,874 copies, 45,454 copies and 1.18 lakh copies respectively.
The paper has two more editions in Patna and Kolkata, which, according to Goenka are "not doing too well". "We would like to consolidate our position in the three states and emerge as a force to reckon with in eastern India," he says.
Khabar's competitor Hindustan is the leader in Bihar with the Patna edition clocking a figure of 3 lakh copies, according to the January-June 2003 period of ABC. Its Ranchi edition launched on February 16, 2000, has a circulation of 1.36 lakh copies distributed over four printing centres - Bhagalpur, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Ranchi, whose figures are 12,956 copies, 41,987 copies, 22,329 copies, and 58,919 copies respectively.
Jagran, also a strong player in Bihar with the Patna edition clocking a figure of 1.11 lakh copies (according to the January-June 2003 period of ABC), set foot in Jharkhand in February this year with a simultaneous launch in Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Ranchi, each with separate editions.
The congregation of papers and editions over the last two or three years makes it evidently clear that Jharkhand (earlier south Bihar) is growing in importance in the region, especially after the formation of the state three years ago. "The potential of the state has increased since Jharkhand separated from Bihar in 2000," points Goenka, an opinion seconded by Vikas Joshi, general manager, Dainik Jagran, Mumbai. "It is the only state in the country that has a surplus budget and has good infrastructure," he says. "However, its natural resources lend themselves well to the trading community and not to the entrepreneurial community. Hence, it is not exactly a hot and happening state, which means that advertisers are not too enthused about directing their ad spends to this region," he says.
According to Joshi, the size of the advertising market in Jharkhand is not more than Rs 15-20 crore. But Goenka of Prabhat Khabar would like to believe that there is room for improvement given the potential of the state. "This state has potential to grow," he says.
At this point, Khabar has an ad to edit ratio of 30:70 with Goenka claiming that almost 50 per cent of the market in terms of advertising is cornered by the paper. "The advantage we have over Jagran or Hindustan is that we are a local daily taken very seriously by the local community," he says. "We understand the pulse of the market, which is visible in our content," he adds.
An average copy of Khabar is of 22 pages, with 18 pages comprising the main issue and four pages making up the supplements, which number five in a week. Priced at Rs 3.50 (across all five editions), the readership of Khabar in the Jharkhand region stands at 9.55 lakh, according to NRS 2002.
Competition is definitely hotting up in the region. Hindustan, for instance, is priced at Rs 3 in Dhanbad, Rs 2.50 in Jamshedpur and Rs 3.50 in Ranchi, with the main issue between 18 to 20 pages including four supplements of four pages each, per week. Goenka does not rule out the fact that the group's latest initiatives are a logical outcome of the changing scenario. "Competition has increased," he says. "At a broader level though, we are looking to tap the potential of the state, which, as I pointed earlier, has scope to grow."
Goenka does not rule out the possibility of new editions though he declines to comment about them. "Right now, our focus is to consolidate and strengthen our position in the existing areas," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!