Five months after being acquired by the Sakal Group of Newspapers, Maharashtra Herald, the oldest English daily in Pune, will be relaunched in a new avatar on April 5. The broadsheet, which had a miniscule circulation (just about 5,000 copies) prior to its acquisition on November 20, 2003, will see a print run in excess of 40,000 copies on relaunch, says Abhijit Pawar, joint managing director, Sakal Newspapers.
On relaunch, an average issue of the paper will consist of 16 pages - double the number of pages in the current issue - and will be divided into two sections of 12 and four pages, respectively. The paper will be Pune-centric, with city-specific news making up 75 per cent of the content. "National and international news will also be covered in the paper, but the idea is to have content which is of relevance to the reader," says Pawar. According to Pradyuman Maheshwari, editor, Maharashtra Herald, the paper is "well-packaged", and targeted at the family, with an element of fun as well as seriousness built into it. "Pune is a vibrant city," he says, "It is an extension of Mumbai, offering the best of the commercial capital in many ways."
The paper will be priced at Re 1 on weekdays, with the cover price on Sundays increasing to Rs 2. With the relaunch, Maharashtra Herald will be the third English paper - after the Indian Express and The Times of India - to reckon with in the city. The Times of India is the leader is Pune, clocking a circulation of 1.03 lakh to Express' 50,000 copies. City-specific news in the two dailies, however, is restricted to the two or three-odd city pages, leaving enough room for a paper that has a strong city-focus. As Jaisurya Das, managing director and principal consultant, Xanadu Consulting Group, explains, "Pune has the capacity to absorb one more English paper that is good, and has a strong local flavour. There are no media vehicles as such that cover the city in-depth, and the people here show a strong emotional connect with the city, with an eagerness to know what's happening around them."
Reader eyeballs for Maharashtra Herald, according to Das, could emanate from young members in Marathi-speaking households, who are keen on speaking and reading the English language. "Not to mention the cosmopolitan crowd, as in, people who have migrated to Pune from other parts of the country, who would like to keep abreast with developments in the city," he adds. From a business point of view, going with a positioning that is local in nature implies that the retail market can be tapped to the hilt. "And major retail outlets, restaurants and multiplexes advertise heavily in Pune, coupled with sectors such as education, real estate, automobiles and telecom, which are also active in the city," Das adds.
Per square centimetre of space for a black-and-white ad in the Maharashtra Herald is priced at Rs 65 to the Times of India's Rs 210 and the Express' Rs 120. For a colour ad, the relaunched paper charges Rs 98 per square centimetre to the Times of India's Rs 230 and the Express' Rs 170. As Pawar explains, "The Herald complements Sakal effectively. But as standalone too, it holds its ground." © 2004 agencyfaqs!