Book Review: Vanita Kohli-Khandekar’s The Indian Media Business

PrintWeek India looks at four books from varied genres which are informative, based on true events and inspirational, with print and its power as a medium central to all of them.

05 Dec 2013 | By Mihir Joshi

The Indian Media Business

The fourth edition of Vanita Kohli-Khandekar’s bestselling The Indian Media Business is a must read. With revised and updated statistics, it is a strong and well-researched guidebook to the perplexifications in the Indian media business. The media boom, as Kohli-Khandekar argues, is not limited to print media, though there has been a considerable surge in the print sector.

The major takeaways for a print specialist are:

1. Language newspapers and local editions

According to FICCI-KPMG 2013, Hindi newspapers will grow at a CAGR of 10.8% between 2012-17 as compared to 4.8% for English newspapers in the same period. It is predicted that the next round of hyper-growth will be seen in regional language markets like Bangla, Marathi and Malayalam. There is a huge gap between the share of readership and the share in revenue. Though this gap has reduced over the last decade, there is still room for improvement. The growth in hyperlocal editions (like Divya Marathi, Malayala Manorama and Matrubhoomi), be it standalone editions or as supplements is a trend that is picking up. The publishers are using these localised markets to attract local and national advertisers who are targeting such local markets.

2. Niche magazines

According to a qualitative research commissioned by Association of Magazine Publishers (AIM), readers spend quality time reading magazines. There are currently an estimated 6,000 odd titles competing for the revenue of Rs 16.5 billion, a revenue pool which is growing in double digits. The decline of general interest magazine thanks to news channels and the internet, has opened up the market for niche and specialised titles. There are hundreds of unexplored and under-explored niches in India. B2B magazines (like PrintWeek India and Autocar Professional) for particular trades have been welcomed by the people associated with these lines of business and trade.

3. Lack of unity

American or European publishing businesses undertake humongous amounts of research to understand their target audiences. The lack of unity in their Indian counterparts limits them from carrying out similar substantial research. The print media as an industry in India rarely invests in researching their target readership. Some publishers are even known to bribe surveyors of readership data for favourable figures. Some attempts have been made by the OOH players; as well as the Indian magazine association. But we need much more.

4. Impact of digital and reduced time spent on print

According to the IRS figures, the daily time spent reading print fell from 32 minutes in 2000 to 28 minutes in 2012 even though the number of readers rose from 232 million to 351 million. The readership numbers might have increased, but the time spent on print media individually has decreased. This is mainly due to the increase in time spent on other media. Given the fact that media is booming simultaneously, print has lost reader time, though not as much as was previously expected.

5. Vanita Kohli-Khandekar’s three mantras

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar provides three vital tips.

One, there will be more media and more mass media in the coming decade;

Two, the battle for scale and margins will continue;

Three, we will become a nation of local media ghettoes.

With more than 10,000 copies having been sold, this 444 page study published by Sage and printed at Saurabh Printers is priced at Rs 650/-. Pick up a copy of Vanita Kohli-Khandekar’s The Indian Media Business.