Sunday, April 13, 2008

Changing face of Chennai's ELM

The launch of the Chennai edition of the Times of India has not only rattled The Hindu, but also the Express. The Express went in for a complete design re-jig and a full page banner screamed "Ahead of the Times". I must say the new look is indeed cool. Our own Hindu on its part has been bending backwards making frantic efforts to stay relevant. It has redesigned the Retail Plus supplement, has introduced Metro Weekend in a tabloid format and launched an altogether new supplement Nxg (which actually looks good) targeting the teens. This is in addition to Ergo , the tabloid from the Hindu stable which , as reported previously in this bog, is being circulated free of cost.Ergo is surprisingly politically and ideologically neutral (politics is not the mainstay of the tabloid).I have read critical reports on Chinese politics unlike the Xinhua garbage thrust on the readers of The Hindu. Could it be that Karthik S-and not N Ram- is the Editor ?

Now, The Hindu did not stop with that. This blog previously commented that ToI with its predatory pricing may cripple The Hindu financially. There are already signs of that happening. The Hindu today cut its cover price for the Chennai edition to Rs 2.50 (from the current 3.25). The Sunday issue will now be available for Rs 3.00 instead of the exorbitant Rs 4.50 . These changes are effective April 14- the very day ToI is launching its Chennai edition.

Ironically, today's issue that carried this price drop announcement also carried a column by Sevanti Ninan that talked about the rising cost of newsprint. I think it is time for N Ram to encash his loyalty. Expect more pro-China "exclusives" in the run up to this.

11 comments:

Dirt Digger said...

Andromeda,
Great details about the market flanking maneuver by the various newspapers. I'm pretty positive that the price cuts are just a way to maintain circulation, but not cripple the newspaper directly.
See the newspaper does not recover a significant return from the sales of the newspaper directly.
If you calculate the total revenue per month and look at the percentage caused by the direct sales, the tactic of cutting price is reactionary.
More on this soon.

socal said...

I hope the TOI succeeds in displacing Chindu. At least it will increase homogeneity across the country in terms of garbage disposal in the name of news.

I don't understand why things go wrong almost with everything within India. Open markets were supposed to bring in more transparency and accountability. The media corporations have made a mockery of this notion by auctioning even editorial space.

PILs have similary hamstrunged the courts with interests group bringing in frivolous petitions.

Democracy was supposed to improve; we now have caste-based parties with no interest in thinking for the country. Larger areas under the sway of naxalism than ever.

Channels were supposed to increase in quality over DD. They did, in terms of technology. In terms of content they still maintain the Soviet era partisanship or else just more soap operas and Bollywood.

Intellectualism is almost disappearing as there is race to suck up to the dynasty. I sometimes wonder how the dynasty feeds so many hangers on, a feat even the most efficient private corporation will find difficult to match.

Sports were supposed to get a boost too, instead we have cricket hogging satellite space more n' more.


I can go on and on about several issues: reservations, smaller states, smaller parties, coalition, private companies(no innovation), top colleges (coaching class experts have ruined them too)....yadda,yadda yadda.


It appears quality is no more desirable, no one is willing to pay time and money required for it. Depressing if you ask me.

Dirt Digger said...

Socal,
don't understand why things go wrong almost with everything within India. Open markets were supposed to bring in more transparency and accountability.
The problem here was that the rot had set into all the 4 pillars a long time ago. The politicians were corrupt, the army and police had a lack of proper leadership or sidelined, the judiciary was filled with cases and hamstrung, the press was not actually free but owned by special interests.
The Open market allowed new companies to create more outlets, but given the fact that ROI is more important than integrity or news quality, the news is filled with junk from Bollywood to cricket to biased political coverage.
Hence where is the real quality of news? It is totally lacking in the current media, unless you look at blogs like, "Ideas have consequences" or "The Chindu" or "The Shadow Warrior".

Thyagarajan said...

I am deeply perturbed at having paid Rs.3.25 per day for the trash that they call "The Hindu", when I could easily have read it at Rs.2.50/ per. where is the communist justification for higher prices when without blinking their eye lids, they reduce the prices to the pressures of Market driven prices, in order to compete with times. Is the chindu giving up it s idealogical baggage and moving right of Centre?

S.Thyagarajan

Andromeda said...

@ DD,
I do agree that "the newspaper does not recover a significant return from the sales of the newspaper directly". However, even in my previous post I had talked about the erosion in advertisement revenues that Chindu might suffer post the ToI launch . When you combine this with a decreasing readership ,a lowering of the subscription charges and raising newsprint costs, you have an ominous combination

Dirt Digger said...

Socal,
the 2 points in your equation are on target. Decreasing readership and rising newsreel costs are but 2 factors in the equation.
Lets say Chindu has a sales of 1,00,000 copies a day(Estimate based on 2004 circulation numbers). It equals 30,00,000 copies a month.
Now your newspaper's revenue is about 30,00,000*3.25 which is approx, 1 crore. Now I'm pretty positive that the Hindu's revenues are in the ballpark range of 400 crore annually. So the revenues from the paper sales directly form about 3% of the actual sales figures.
You can talk to Mr.Shiva Kumar who is the Circulation Manager for actuals :)
Now with the advent of TOI, the numbers can drop to 90,000. Then the Chindu can lose about 40 crores in revenue for every 10,000 lost in circulation. Now the 40 crores can be made up if some outside entity can make an investment under certain conditions ;)

Hindu Fundamentalist said...

What fraction of 1 trillion dollars is 40 crore rupees?

Vajra said...

The hindu's editor in chief is seen all the time on front rows protesting FDI in print media, is going to bring 26% FDI in print media according to this report in mint.

Is it the effect of Times of India Chennai edition ?

Dirt Digger said...

Vajra,
Thanks for the update. You and Bhushan(another reader) pointed out the same topic in separate threads.
Great minds think alike :)

That is indeed a very interesting development. Fairfax is an Australian media conglomerate and probably trying to get its foothold into the indian media after the Govt. changed the regulation to allow foreign investment upto 26%.
Now the logic behind this could be that with the key members of the Kasturi family i.e.Ram/Murali/Ravi growing old in the tooth, they might be trying to get their golden parachute while trying to maintain a facade of control.
The catch though is that, the Australian investors would likely want changes in the management, editorial sections and operations, to compete with TOI and DC.
If this deal does go through, it might usher in a radical change.

Anonymous said...

Great news! Anyhthing is prefereable to Ram's rag and his stable of hacks, doormats, and liars - Sainath, Sukumar Muralidhara, Khare, Vidya S., S. Varadarajan, and many more nitwits. I hope the ToI thrashes Ram's rag well and proper. Some years ago Ram made a big fuss about ToI devaluing the position of the editor. Now it is payback time as ToI eats TH's lunch. Maybe Ram will have to do something about the high cost of dog food and his airconditioned kennel for his 22 pomeranians. Hypocrite!

Anonymous said...

I wish TOI should win over the Hindu in terms of circulation, since chennaites are paying so much for an paper who have'nt changed the publications since it's inception. Ram should cry for himself and for his family that he cannot able to match for the TOI. No matter even hindu is offered for free it will be thrown to an dust bin ...................