The newspaper market in south India is set to see a new entry, with the Mumbai-based Indian Express Group ready to launch a new English daily, National Standard. The newspaper would initially be launched in Bangalore. This would be followed by launches in Chennai and Hyderabad.
When contacted, Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express, confirmed the development, saying the newspaper would be launched soon. He, however, declined to give any time frame, as well as the details. The current editorial leadership would bring out the National Standard, he added.
Industry sources said it was expected the newspaper would be launched on August 15, with 20 pages, including local ones. They added it would have a print run of 15,000-20,000 copies. The paper is likely to be priced at Rs 4 on weekdays and Rs 5 on weekends; annual subscription fee is likely to be Rs 599. The sources said the paper would be printed at DNA’s press in Bangalore. In Delhi, DNA used the Indian Express press.
Asked about the newspaper’s launch in other centres, including Chennai and Hyderabad, Gupta said, “It will be launched in Bangalore soon. We will go step by step and the focus will be on young, grown-up, aspirational and questioning Indians.”
While industry representatives and experts are sceptical about the new paper, as the market is already overcrowded, Gupta is bullish, saying, “Our vision is for top-of-the-mind-share publications.” Major players in the market include The Times of India and Deccan Herald, fighting for the No 1 spot, followed by The Hindu, DNA, The New Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle. A senior industry representative said the Bangalore market was highly cosmopolitan — the combined readership base of the Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu segments stood at 1,00,000-1,50,000. The top four English dailies account for a readership base of about 10,00,000, while the top three Kannada newspapers have a readership base of 5,67,000 in the city. On why he had chosen Bangalore for the newspaper’s launch, Gupta said, “The new paper will be a quality paper for quality young audience, and Bangalore is that kind of a market, evident from our online market. Our largest base for online readers is in Bangalore.”
Industry insiders said Bangalore had national advertisers such as Toyota, TVS Motor, Titan, Tanishq, Arvind Remedies, TVS, Lifestyle International, TTK Prestige, Purvankara, Mannapuram Gold, etc.
On the agreement signed between the two Express groups, Gupta said according to the 1995 agreement, “We cannot launch a paper called Indian Express in the south”.
According to information available in the public domain, in 1999, eight years after the death of the group’s founder Ramnath Goenka, the group was split between family members. While editions in the South and Odisha began to be brought out under the name The New Indian Express, north-focused editions, based in Mumbai, changed the name from Indian Express to The Indian Express.
According to a Deloitte estimate, the newspaper industry in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala is estimated at Rs 6,265 crore and is projected to rise to Rs 9,110 crore by 2016. The market in Karnataka was estimated at Rs 1,350 crore in 2012; it is expected to touch Rs 2,018 crore by 2016.