Representatives from the Indian newspaper industry discussed a more realistic cover price for newspapers at the 3rd Annual South Asia Newspaper Conference, organised by the International Newsmedia Marketing Association here on Thursday.
Speaking at the conference, N. Murali, Managing Director of The Hindu, said an attempt should be made to correct somewhat the highly skewed price structure of newspapers. “The print media, which has been used to 20 per cent growth in advertising levels, can now expect it to grow at only single-digit figures. As long as advertisers were willing to pay and till the boom period lasted, we were getting by. But now, a serious wake-up call is needed.”
“What kind of industry can have a type of revenue or pricing model where the cover price does not cover even part of its newsprint costs,” asked Mr. Murali. “The cover price of newspapers should be raised by 50 paise every six months so that newspapers cost between six-seven rupees in two-three years.”
Ravi Dhariwal of The Times of India said all newspapers had profited from low cover prices which resulted in increased penetration. “Earlier, advertising was paying for increasing circulation, but now newspapers are experiencing diminishing returns. It is time for experimenting with the cover price and taking slow and small steps towards increasing it.”
Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd. Managing Director Tariq Ansari said the most important thing for readers was the credibility of the newspaper. “Advertising has started entering the editorial domain and can destroy the credibility. Therefore, it is important to hike circulation prices.”