Dhaleta Surender Kumar

Times gives a push to its Hindi tabloid

The afternoon Hindi tabloid, Sandhya Times, published from Delhi, gets a makeover to talk to the traders

Sandhya Times, Delhi's afternoon Hindi tabloid from the Bennett, Coleman & Co (BCCL) stable, has gone for a makeover to appeal more to local traders.

Ranjeet Kate, director, Times Language Business (BCCL), says, “The trader community is not well represented and understood by the premium brands of media. We are trying to give them a voice through Sandhya Times.”

The changes include a new masthead and a design makeover. Two new pages -- Business Mantra -- have been added to include hyper local content.

“We have listed about 300 markets in Delhi. For example, within Chandni Chowk itself, there will be hyper local reporting on the various markets, such as Khari Baoli, which can be further segregated into the dry fruits market, grain market and spices market. We’ll talk about their issues and concerns, besides the regular entertainment,” says Aman Nayar, brand manager, Navbharat Times.

Business Mantra also has a special column, ‘Hamara Bazaar’, where retailers and traders write about their issues and concerns.

The circulation of Sandhya times has dwindled over the years. Five years ago, as per ABC (July-Dec, 2003), the tabloid had an average circulation of 41,000. Today, it stands at 33,700 (ABC, July-Dec, 2008).

Sandhya Times was forced to review its strategy, largely because of two factors. One, the coming up of flyovers in the city has reduced the number of traffic signals significantly. “Sandhya Times had a one-lakh plus circulation in the ‘90s. It sold very well at the crossings. However, with minimal stoppages now, the sales have gone down drastically,” says Nayar, adding, “Second, the entertainment quotient covered in the tabloid, too, has been hijacked by supplements of mainline morning dailies.”

Due to these factors, the circulation of the tabloid dwindled among women, students and commuters, which formed its major TG.

Among the changes made to the tabloid’s content, TV listings have been completely removed; while classified advertising, according to Nayar, has been restricted to only two days a week -- Wednesday and Friday. “Mainline dailies give an exhaustive TV programme listing; even DTH and pay-TV services have their own listings, so there's no point in repeating the listings,” he adds.

Classifieds have been limited to two days for the purpose of segregation. “While Wednesday has mostly B2B ads; on Friday, the classifieds section is focused on matrimonials,” says Nayar. For the record, Sandhya Times is a five-day paper, published from Monday to Friday.

The entertainment quotient covered by the tabloid is not limited to Bollywood, but encompasses the culture of the different business communities of Delhi as well.

The tabloid will have an on-ground campaign soon. “We hope to revive the lost glory of Sandhya Times and increase the current circulation to about 60,000 in two months,” says Sahir Usman, assistant brand manager, Navbharat Times.

However, Sandhya Times would continue to follow the cash sales model, with a cover price of Rs 2. “It is very difficult to follow the subscription model, as different markets are closed on different days in Delhi. For example, Lajpat Nagar and Karol Bagh are closed on Monday; Sarojini Nagar is closed on Tuesday and Punjabi Bagh is closed on Wednesday,” adds Usman.