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Hindi newspaper market heats up

December 28, 2006 01:07 IST

Jagran Prakshan Limited, publisher of Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, has rolled out its second newspaper brand, I-next, in Kanpur and Lucknow.

The city-centric, compact-sized daily is targeted at 18 to 35 year olds, priced at Rs 3, and claims a print run of 50,000 copies in each city.

Two weeks ago, Rajasthan's leading newspaper Rajasthan Patrika started Daily News in Jaipur, a Hindi language product with an English brand name. Patrika's paper is priced at a nominal 50 paise.

Meanwhile, newspaper readers in Agra, an Amar Ujala stronghold, may soon find an afternoon daily in the city. Ajai Agarwal, the Agra-based former partner in Amar Ujala (he sold his stake to the Meerut-based majority owners of the paper recently), is now planning a paper for the afternoon slot.

In the action-packed Hindi newspaper market, the entrenched players are starting second brands, while others are expanding through new editions.

There are unconfirmed reports that Dainik Bhaskar too is looking at a fresh brand for Rajasthan. Its marketing head, Sanjeev Kotnala, declined comment. But for HT Media's Hindi daily Hindustan, a second brand is not on the radar just yet.

"We need to consolidate our editions in Meerut, Agra and Kanpur and then consider entry into MP and Rajasthan," says Amit Garg, HT Media's business head for the vernacular segment.

Some six months ago, Rajasthan Patrika had ventured into Madhya Pradesh, via Indore, with an evening newspaper titled News Today. In the same city, Dainik Bhaskar took control recently of an afternoon paper called Prabhat Kiran.

For Jagran and Patrika, the second newspaper brands are clearly aimed at tapping the changing needs of the consumer in the markets where they operate.

Says Shailesh Gupta, director marketing at Jagran Prakashan: "The paper addresses the youth. It is written in a language they understand -- Hindi interspersed with commonly used English words. And no, I-next is not a flanking brand for us. It has its own market."

Gupta plans to grow I-next into a 10-15 edition paper in a year's time.

Rajasthan Patrika's Daily News in Jaipur has been launched to cater to the city's bustling student community. "The city is exploding with management schools and hostels. Daily News meets the information and entertainment needs of students at 50 paise a day," says Arvind Kalia, marketing head at Rajasthan Patrika.

However, he adds that Daily News will also address the needs of readers looking for "spicy" content. "Jaipur is prosperous and readers can afford a second newspaper. Rajasthan Patrika is conservative, while Daily News offers Page 3 content," says Kalia.

Analysts tracking the media at securities firm First Global say that more newspaper publishers will launch second brands as there is an opportunity to hook new readers.

"Newspaper owners do not want to dilute the content of their core brands. Dainik Jagran, for instance, is not focused on the youth. So, I-next will target a separate market," says an analyst.

Also, Hindi newspaper publishers are invading one another's territories. "If some player spots a gap in the market, he will promptly fill it. Clearly, the new brands will help them protect their turf as well," he adds.

Shuchi Bansal in New Delhi
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