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INMA 6th Annual South Asia Conference: A real 'glocal' world

The future will be about digital, customised editions and localised content for newspapers in India.

INMA 6th Annual South Asia Conference: A real 'glocal' world
There was a time when the morning started with a cup of tea/coffee and the newspaper. The scene now is somewhat changed, with the 'tea/coffee' still remaining and the newspaper being replaced by the mobile handset or a tablet. The second day of the 6th Annual INMA South Asia Conference held at Le Meridian, Delhi, witnessed a panel discussion on how newspapers need to go hyper-local and expand the business through other media to remain relevant in the future.

Jehil Thakkar, partner and head, media and entertainment, KPMG India, moderated the session, which had speakers such as D D Purkayastha, MD and CEO, ABP; Ravi Dhariwal, president, INMA Worldwide and CEO, The Times of India; and Santosh Desai, MD and CEO, Future Brands. The topic of debate was 'Media 2020: A future backward kaleidoscope'.

INMA 6th Annual South Asia Conference: A real 'glocal' world
INMA 6th Annual South Asia Conference: A real 'glocal' world
INMA 6th Annual South Asia Conference: A real 'glocal' world
INMA 6th Annual South Asia Conference: A real 'glocal' world
Thakkar began the discussion by throwing a question at Dhariwal. He asked, "What is your impression about the future of the newspaper industry?"

To this, Dhariwal answered, "Over the years, the tendency to consume media has increased amongst people and going forward, this tendency will witness a further rise. What has changed is the amount of time being spent on individual media. While the share of digital and video have increased tremendously, newspapers have taken a backseat."

Providing a broad sketch of what the future will look like for newspapers, Dhariwal added, "In the future, newspapers will be more interactive than today. While it will still remain as the four page broadsheet, it will have shorter and crisp stories, which will be more detailed and analytical. Interestingly, it will still remain the entry source for news for people as the day begins."

However, Dhariwal was quick to add that in order to reach this level, newspapers have to maintain the credibility factor, continue with the process of curation and as advertising revenue will continue to flow, newspapers will have to find new solutions like pairing print and digital, for advertisers.

Next, Thakkar asked Desai to describe the 'new' consumer and how his mind works.

"The future is going to be a world which is very connected yet divided into many parts. For example, a family of four members will like to read papers only of their interest. So, at the end of the day, the household may be getting just one paper but different sections of that paper will be newspapers by themselves. Atomisation will happen soon – wherein a day will be fractured into several moments and every moment will be equally important and newsworthy. So the future will witness the rise of a consumer who is only interested in his area of concern," described Desai.

Thakkar then asked Purkayastha how the business will evolve in the future.

According to Purkayastha, the newspaper business will go through the process of super-regionalisation and customisation, and other forms of media will be used along with newspapers. "The future will be about a media company offering a bouquet of services. The consumer will demand everything to be linked and found under one roof. So, a lot of acquisitions will happen, where big media companies will consolidate their businesses.

Taking the discussion further, Dhariwal noted, "Consolidation will also happen at the back-end. As newspaper companies try to battle their rising input costs, the future will witness the consolidation of technology, printing press and distribution channel. However, at the front, the market will witness the rise of many more products, including niche papers. Right now, papers are customised on the basis of geography but the evolution of technology will allow customisation on the basis of interest."

At the end, the panel reached the conclusion that the future will see print collaborating with digital and an increase in the relevance of local news.

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