November 1, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether print journalism is decaying in India. We also look at the fire clearance mandate for small restaurants and PG accommodations in Delhi, among other news.
FYI: On account of Karnataka Rajyotsava, we are not working today. So you will not receive the newsletter tomorrow. We will be back on Thursday.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Is Print Journalism Decaying in India?
There is no doubt that the print media industry has been on a decline in terms of business. With the rise of digital communication and various online platforms, digital content is slowly taking over the industry. Why wouldn’t it? The internet significantly reduces the cost of producing and distributing information. However, it may not be as irrelevant as you think.
While numerous prominent media houses have introduced websites and e-papers, print journalism still caters to a good chunk of the Indian population.
Technological advancements have been identified as the driving force behind processes of social change, and the journalism industry is no exception. Apart from audiences embracing digital, the print media industry is bearing the pressure of multiple factors. The depreciation of the rupee, the increase in newsprint prices, and the government’s new customs duty on newsprint have contributed to the decline of the industry. The financial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic further exasperated the standing of this industry.
The business model followed by the print news industry, called the advertiser-revenue model, has been the dominant operational model for newspapers for a few decades. Most newspapers cost between ₹15 and ₹20 to make, while they are sold for ₹1.5-4. The rest of the cost is covered by advertising revenue which essentially cross-subsidises the production cost of the newspaper. Since readers have shifted from a physical newspaper to a webpage, the sustainability of this model is crumbling.
Elevated newspaper prices have contributed to the contraction of operating margins of print media companies. The drop from 9.5% this fiscal year to 6.5% the next fiscal year is expected despite the rationalisation of newsprint intake and the expected increase in cover prices. To make matters worse, the print media industry imports about 50% of its total newsprint demand, with Russia as the major exporter. Due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the demand-supply scenario has been affected to a great extent.
VIEW: Print journalism is dying
It is no secret that in India, as well as everywhere else, whoever has access to digital, generally prefers this mode of media over print. A survey conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed that 38% of those over the age of 35 identified online media as their primary source of information and news, while 27% identified print for the same. Of those under the age of 35, 56% cited online media as their main source of news, and just 16% identified print as the same.
Targeting social media instead of newspapers, as it turns out to be, is more profitable for advertisers. With digital news, they have the ability to target demographics of readers in a more personalized way. Due to the increased use of digital media, advertisers have started focusing their budgets on this space.
Between 2014-15, print media advertising grew at a rate of 8%, while digital advertising grew by 38% in the same time period. Projections predict that digital advertising will grow at a rate of 27% in the next few years while print media will grow at merely 3%.
COUNTERVIEW: Print journalism is still relevant
While the prospects for print media growth seem bleak, some sources report that this is not the case. Rating agency Crisil, in its report released in March this year, stated that print media is likely to achieve a 20% topline growth to ₹27,000 crores in this fiscal year as opposed to ₹18,600 crores seen in fiscal 2021. The report also stated that as economic activity improves, ad revenue will also rebound as these two factors are highly correlated.
Apart from being the most affordable form of news, print media also upholds the criteria of credibility in news. Concerns of fake news have nudged people to fall back on print news which is generally more reliable and thoroughly researched. Additionally, newspapers in India are available at one’s doorstep.
The shift to digital advertising hasn’t been very easy for news organizations. Since they have naturally moved to monetise the digital versions of their newspapers as well, paywalls have posed an obstacle. Not every citizen can afford the hefty monthly subscriptions required to have access to credible accounts of current events.
Additionally, the regional presence of newspapers contributes to driving ad revenue. According to a FICCI-EY report from 2019, Hindi newspaper publications accounted for 37% of the ad volumes in 2018, while the rest was covered by regional language papers, including those in Marathi, Kannada, Telugu and Assamese.
- Future Of News: What May Save India’s Flailing Print Journalism In Digital Age – Outlook India
- Future of print media in India – Reputation Today
- Print media revenue set to rebound by 20% to Rs 27,000cr: Report – Business Standard
- Print media in India – room for growth – BLoC
- The future of India’s newspapers has to be digital – and it has to be now – Scroll
- The biggest risk for print media doesn’t come from technology – Exchange4Media
- The future of newspapers in India – Print Week
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Print journalism is dying in India.
b) Print journalism is still relevant in India.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Imposing language an assault on India’s diversity
For the Left:
BJP fighting for victory margins in Gujarat
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Fire clearance mandate (Delhi) – Small restaurants and PG accommodations with 10 or more rooms will have to apply for a fire safety no objection certificate (NOC). Previously, these establishments didn’t come under the fire NOC category. A sub-committee formed by the Delhi government decided on this in the wake of a fire at the Arpit Palace Hotel in February 2019 that killed 17 people.
Why it matters: Delhi has been cracking down on commercial and residential establishments that haven’t renewed their fire safety certificates. It’s mandatory for every high-rise commercial building to have a fire safety certificate. Officials have undertaken surveys to see places that have expired certificates and sent notices to them.
Annamaiah project cost increases (Andhra Pradesh) – The reconstruction of the Annamaiah project, recently damaged due to floods, has increased to ₹801 crores from the initial estimate of ₹775.17 crores. The eastern bund will be replaced with concrete. Also, 11 crest gates will be built in addition to the existing five. The flood discharge capacity will be increased from 1.8 lakh to 5.6 lakh cusecs.
Why it matters: The opposition in the state has targeted the state government over delays. The project involves a medium irrigation project constructed across Cheyyeru, a tributary of the Penna river. The floods damaged property worth crores and killed many. The project first started in 1981 and was finished in 2001.
Tweaking rules for 5G (West Bengal) – As 5G services begin rolling out, the state government will change the telecom infrastructure guidelines. Following amendments to the Right of Way rules, the state has discussed with telecom operators and power utilities about making the necessary changes. The state wants a holistic approach and integrates all existing policies.
Why it matters: The state already has policies like the State Broadband Policy, 2020, and a single window clearance system for telecom infrastructure. In August, the telecom ministry notified amendments to the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules, 2016. It allowed the use of street furniture to install small cells, which are low-powered cell radio access nodes. The changes were in line with the industry’s demands.
Protests against Jetty policy (Goa) – Hundreds of Goans peacefully protested against the proposed draft jetty policy, which they claimed was a backdoor entry to usurp the state’s waters and nearby land for private enterprises. They said citizens would draft their own policy and submit it to the government. Those protesting included activists and opposition MLAs. They feel the policy would allow companies to own jetties on the rivers without any consideration for the local ecology.
Why it matters: Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao questioned the tourism department’s intention behind the policy. It seems fishermen and villagers weren’t consulted when the policy was drafted. According to those protesting the policy, the government wants to use it to facilitate coal transportation through the state’s waterways.
Alliance Air operations launched (Assam) – Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma flagged off operations of Alliance Air in the northeastern states, including Assam. The airline will travel between Lilabari, Ziro, Shillong, Imphal, and Mizoram. One place highlighted by him was the Lakhimpur district which is an important corridor in the northeast. Here, 84 acres of land have been handed over for an airport.
Why it matters: The northeast has become an important hub for airlines due to its tourism potential. Thanks to the UDAN scheme, many of the region’s important cities are now under the regional connectivity scheme. And the number of flights in the region has increased to almost 8,000 from August 2017 to 2022.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
₹545 crores – The value of new electoral bonds sold ahead of elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The BJP got most of the contributions issued between October 1 and 10.