Indian newspaper industry expected to become sixth-largest newspaper market by 2017, growing at CAGR of 10%, says government minister; print industry has combined market penetration rate of around 14%, leaving plenty of room for future growth

Allison Oesterle

Allison Oesterle

Aug 27, 2013 – Media Mughals

August 26, 2013 () – The Minster of I&B, Manish Tewari, at the launch of National Media Centre in the capital said that we are living in the era of information overload.

At the launch event, Minish Tewari said, "21 years after it was first conceptualized during the 8th five year plan (1992-97), the National Media Centre is finally ready to make it's debut among the institutions that underpin our democratic edifice. I would like to congratulate all those who persevered to translate this vision into a reality."

"We live in an era of an information overload. The media landscape has transformed exponentially over the past 2 decades. This transformation has brought it's own set of challenges to the media industry. India today mirrors the world in global cross media consumption patterns", he added.

Commenting at the growth rate of newspapers in India and global decline in print services, Mahish said, "A very unfortunate collateral of this epoch making change is the print industry globally. It is distressing to learn that iconic newspapers and magazines around the world are ceasing to print. However, India seems to have bucked the trend. The Indian newspaper market will be the only one to grow at a double-digit C.A.G.R. [Compounded Annual Growth Rate] of 10% and would emerge as the world's sixth-largest newspaper market by 2017 as per industry reports on media and entertainment. The regional and vernacular print sector is growing on the back of rising literacy and low print media penetration as well as the heightened interest of advertisers wanting to leverage these markets."

"According to industry sources, print has a combined market penetration of a ball park of 14% roughly therefore the print industry has the potential to expand its footprint and readership across the national canvas. This sector thus would be able to weather the shifting sands of technology at least in the Indian context," he asserted.

The Indian broadcasting sector had grown from one channel in 1991 to 852 at the last count. After statutory rationalization the number now stands at 795 odd channels. While this has brought about plurality it has resulted in market fragmentation also.

There are 15.4 crore TV households in India. Unfortunately the news and current affairs genre makes up only 7% of the total television viewership. (according to tam cs4+all India weekly average for 2012). The remaining 93% of this universe is occupied by general entrainment channels despite there being 395 odd news and current affairs channels.

This generates hope that there is an exponential potential for growth provided news broadcasters and Multi System Operators (MSO's) are prepared to re-imagine their content and carriage paradigms respectively.

In both the print and television genres the revenue model remains heavily dependent on advertising.

To give consumers the benefit of better quality of service and correct the skewed revenue models in the broadcasting sector government launched a massive digitization exercise in 2012. With 10 million set top boxes seeded in Phase-I, another 20 million in Phase-II and yet another 80 million scheduled for Phase-III & IV, by the end of 2014 no one in the Broadcasting Sector can really say that bottom-lines and balance sheets in August 2013 are not looking better than in October, 2012. The MSME sector must also endeavour to leverage this unique business opportunity and convert it into the India digitization story even in manufacturing terms.

For the news broadcasting industry, the advertisement cap requires a migration path synchronous with the roll out of digitization. I hope the T.R.A.I. would give it re-consideration to this issue.

The new frontier is of course digital. Eric Schmidt &Jared Cohen in their seminal treatise made some pre-scient observations which are para phrased as follows:

a) The internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history - "and it has succeeded." LAST 4 ARE MY WORDS

b) It represents the largest ungoverned space on planet earth.

c) Never before in history have so many people from so many places had so much power on their finger tips.

d) Every two days more digital content is created than from the dawn of civilization until 2003.

e) What is evolving is a tale of two civilizations; one physical that has evolved over the millennia and one virtual that is still very much in formation.

f) The New Media rides on the back of this world wide web:

IN INDIA ALONE WITH

* 86.7 CRORE MOBILE PHONES

* 12.4 CRORE INTERNET USERS AND EXPECTED

TO GROW TO 37 CRORES BY 2017

*8 CRORE PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK

*1.8 CRORE'S ON TWITTER

And expanding exponentially this is truly the medium of the future.

The Government has recently taken a decision to create a New Media Wing in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to have an institutional presence in this virtual civilization.

Another medium that till a decade back was considered a casualty of the tectonic technological shifts but now stands poised on the threshold of a new wave is radio. High mobile penetration and cheap call rates in our country has brought this renaissance into replay.

Yet another sector which has just completed a centenary of existence is films. This industry has grown but still has tremendous potential. As per an industry estimate, about 14 million Indians go to the movies everyday. As per another report, the film industry is valued at 112.4 billion INR [$1.741 billion], and is estimated to grow to about 193.3 billion INR [$2.994 billion] by 2017, a compound annual growth rate (C.A.G.R.) of about 11.5%. The regional film industry is a steady contributor to this growth process.

As we speak a committee under Chief Justice (Rtd) Shri Mukul Mudgul is winding down it's remit to overhaul the archaic Cinematographic Act of 1952. Another task force under the leadership of Shri Sam Pitroda is also close to finalizing their recommendations on a comprehensive restructuring of Prasar Bharti. Yet another group of eminent persons is reimagining the entire universe of government communications.

While the UPA Government has more than walked the extra mile to create an enabling environment, as evidenced by the fact that industry reports indicate that the media sector has grown by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (C.A.G.R.) of over 9% between 2007-2012 and is projected to grow at 15% between 2012-2017.

There are however some paradoxes that all stakeholders in this sector must try and collectively resolve to find the elusive golden mean. These are:

(a) Paradox of the short fuse-

Increased information dissemination mechanisms qua-increased intolerance of the others point of view.

(b) Paradox of Flawed Revenue Models qua Questionable Revenue Generation practices

(c) Paradox of TRPs qua truth

(d) Media Trials qua a Fair Judicial Trail guaranteed by article 21 of the constitution.

(e) Anonymity masquerading as privacy in the new media space. - the spectre of the 'hidden' people.

(f) Non emergence of global rules of engagement in the virtual civilization.

(g) Last mile neutrality among carriage providers so that content providers get a level playing field and are able to reap the benefits of convergence

The UPA government's media philosophy has been an essay in persuasion and not an essay in regulation. While appreciating the role that various mediums of the media have played over the years, as we try and catalyze the growth ambience in this sector, it is my responsibility to flag the aberrations and gaps and see how they can be surmounted with the co-operation of all concerned to ensure that discourse remains constructive.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Media Mughals. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

 


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