Following a new format, the summit was an “invitation-only” affair this year. Attendees had the opportunity to learn from print media experts and interact with suppliers who reviewed their upcoming products and services during the event.
Best in Print Asia 2021 Awards
The event began on 17 November evening and hosted the “Best in Print – Asia 2021 Awards” ceremony to recognise the continent’s best newspaper printers. This award showcases the publications’ ability to print at the highest quality according to ISO (ISO 12647 and ISO 2846) and WAN-IFRA standards.
The award had three categories, based on newspaper circulation numbers. United Printing & Publishing’s The National bagged the gold award in the “Less than 50K circulation” category.
Bennett Coleman’s The Times of India (Lucknow and Ahmedabad) won the bronze and silver awards in the “50K – 150K Circulation” category. Hong Kong’s Apple Daily took home the gold award in this category.
For the “More than 150K Circulation” category, The Times of India (Navi Mumbai and Mumbai) bagged the silver and gold, while ABP’s Anandabazar Patrika won the bronze award.
The summit was a packed day of networking and in-person meetings with product and solution providers to discuss business and the latest developments in the industry. Attendees also had the opportunity to learn and exchange ideas with panelists from leading media organisations across India.
The first panel talked about optimising operational and capital expense, and strategies that work best for managing assets and new investments. It hosted RD Bhatnagar (chief technology officer, DB Corp), BS Shesh (vice-president, supply chain, HT Media), Lakshmivenkatraman RP (former head, technical and production, THG Publishing), and Amit Khurana (COO, Newspaper Group, TechNova).
“The word expense has gained a very bad reputation in the journalism industry – whether it is capex or opex. Unfortunately, we can’t do without it. There are two distinct baskets in capex. The first is the capex which has already been put into place. What can we do with that? The second is, going forward, as we get out of this pandemic, how do we take capex forward? In newspapers we spend huge amounts of money. Can different news media companies collaborate to use each other’s capex, exploiting it fully,” asked BS Shesh. “The future of the industry needs to have a collaborative approach, to combat competition from different avenues.”
Lakshmivenkatraman RP emphasised on the need for standardising 40-gsm or a lower grammage newsprint to reduce the operation costs.
The panel concluded that nurturing the talent is vital for the prosperity of the print industry and to tap the avenues for streamlining the cost of operations and new investments.
The second panel covered product and process innovation, and how companies can recalibrate their thinking prowess. The panel hosted Snehasis C Roy (director, technical, Bennett Coleman and chairman, World Printers Forum India Chapter), Pradyumna Mitra (general manager, engineering, ABP), Peter Britto (deputy general manager, The Times of India), and Dr K Subramanian (senior vice-president, Ashok Leyland).
“It is time to relook, introspect and realign. When Covid hit, ABP removed the physical boundaries for collaboration via remote working. Employees were enabled with work from home via VPN solutions, online ticketing solutions, and self-help IT tools. Network was strengthened and ISP options were added to make the infrastructure more robust. This resulted in more than 92 percent of employees connecting from home smoothly,” said Mitra.
“At all our BCCL plants, we have monthly ideation sessions. Ideas are generated which are then brought together at half yearly innovation meetings. After a lot of deliberation, we scrutinise the innovations, and choose the ones we feel are viable for press trials. The ideas that survive the press trials are reviewed by our internal leadership and are then given to the plants. Then the response department rolls out these innovations to the market,” elaborated Britto.
Dr K Subramanian said, “Everywhere one can innovate. And can make the product (or) process more efficient”. Stressing upon the need to keep the thought process open and citing examples from the automobile industry, he added “Automobiles as we know it today will not remain the same ten years from now. Whoever can lead that transition can be a winner in the market.”
Special report released
Earlier in the day, Wan-Ifra’s new special report on ‘Guide to print using 40gsm newsprint’ was released. The report is an initiative of the World Printers Forum India Chapter and provides a practical guide to migrate to print using lower grammage newsprint. The report will be available for download on Wan-Ifra website next week.