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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Chennai Print Wars – Whom should we believe?

Business Standard has an interview with T Venkattram Reddy of Deccan Chronicle. Deccan Chronicle now claims a circulation of 3 lakh copies (not yet certified by ABC) in Chennai alone. If this report is to be believed, Deccan Chronicle’s circulation is higher than that of The Hindu in the Chennai market. Although DC has been growing fast it doesn’t have any USP to dethrone Hindu from the top slot. The Hindu claims that hawkers are buying DC and disposing them as waste paper as it is a lucrative business (Wonder how DC advertisers would react to this?). New Indian Express is claiming that its circulation went up after the entry of DC. There are too many contradictions. Let’s hope we hear the truth soon.

Everyone thought it would be The Times of India that would take on The Hindu in Chennai, but Reddy jumped the starter gun while The Times of India was still in the paddock.

The result has been a welter of claims, accusations and counter-accusations. The 125-year-old Hindu sells 10.47 lakh (1.05 million) copies across the country, of which 264,000 are in its Chennai fortress. Astonishingly enough, Reddy says he already sells 3 lakh copies from Chennai, less than six months after launch.

N Murali, joint managing director of The Hindu, says that the Deccan Chronicle's claims about a ramped up circulation are no more than clever artifice, that the Re 1 paper (in comparison with Rs 3.25 charged by The Hindu) doesn't reach readers at all, because it's more profitable for hawkers to sell it as waste paper.

Old style readers may continue to prefer The Hindu's sedate approach to news, its excellent production qualities and its high-brow opinion pieces (Karunanidhi once referred to the paper as the "Mahavishnu of Mount Road"), to the Deccan Chronicle's loud headlines and earthy content, but there is little doubt that the battle has been joined - and only partly because of the pricing games that Reddy has played (ICICI card-holders, for instance, can buy a whole year's copies of the Deccan Chronicle for just Rs 99).


My earlier posts on this subject:

Deccan Chronicle conquers Chennai, heads for Trichy and B’lore

Deccan Chronicle claims print run of 2 lakhs (July 2005)

Deccan Chronicle notches up a circulation of 1.50 lakhs (May 2005)

Dinamalar starts offering e-paper

Tamil newspaper Dinamalar has started offering an e-version of their newspaper (similar to e-paper of ToI). This is supposed to be a first for Tamil newspapers. Tamil Murasu already offers the same in a PDF format.

6 Comments:

  • I have heard of stories where the newspapers vendors give the DC free of cost everyday in Chennai..

    By Blogger sathish, at 5:32 PM  

  • Hi Kaps,

    Let me explain you something, as said DC is being used as just a waste paper or for normal use, serious readers of DC has not been confirmed yet and even 3 Lakh copy is no big deal becuase most of them sold free !

    Specially arond the Petrol Bunk's of chennai, everywhere DC is provided free for anyone who comes to take fuel and not only this, even if you a middle class man and wish to buy vegetable from near by shop and incase he has no change for 1 RE, he provides you with DC, but comparing DC with THE HINDU is really stupid, THE HINDU is a legend and heritage of chennai, DC has just captured lakhs of users, but none of them are serious to stick along with them for ever and even DC wont keep their pricing same for ever ?

    The another funny fact of DC is, its sold on cinema theatres, specially on Day 1 to Day 10, since most of the fans celebrate by throwing the papers around theatre, and THE HINDU is not something one goes for, its DC, its cheap than a 2nd hand news paper.

    DC shoudl try to be more professional, "Chennai makal padpathu - Deccan Chronicle" may be "Chennai makal yerivathu - Deccan Chronicle", if this status continues, DC will surely be used as a "Toilet Paper" in hotels and reastarunats and will be used for all purpose in day today life,if you take a survey of serious readers of DC, i am sure its less than what you people thinking about.

    Once again, THE HINDU, is a legend, I dont want people to compare newbies with Legend!

    Regards,
    Dreamchaser

    NOTE: There are just my views and comments that happen around Chennai, not sure if they are 100% true!

    By Anonymous Dreamchaser, at 7:37 PM  

  • DC s content is not at all comparable to The Hindu s . DC add lot of masala and price it so low to give competition to mahavishnu of mount road. Though it may beat later in numbers but what really matter is the quality of content with professionalism rather than masala with glam pics itself.

    By Blogger sai thilak, at 7:29 PM  

  • @Sathish,
    That is surprising

    @Dreamchaser,
    thanks for the detailed comment. My impression is that DC is not intellectually stimulating....it could be a timepass newspaper and they are trying to capitalize on the segment which wants this time pass. Their agression to pursue petrol station and other places simply amazes me. they can't do this free business for long.

    @Sai Thilak,
    I guess DC will face a tough time when ToI enters Chennai.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 10:53 AM  

  • Hindu always takes competition way too lightly and this is never a good thing. The Hindu is an extremely arrogant organization which is natural if you have been a monopoly for over 100 years. The advertisers have been craving for an alternative. The Hindu again caters to a very specific audience and has always been slow to change. With the changing market dynamics..younger readers + more people starting to read english dailies ..the DC may stand a chance to capture a good percentage of a growing market. By giving the papers away almost for free..they are trying a sampling exercise in the hope people will adopt the paper. One must remember that these people need not be people switching over from they Hindu..they could be people who are first time readers of an english daily or people who don't mind a second paper in the household. DC themselves are likely to improve their editorial etc over a period of time if the market wants that..it would be stupid of the hindu to just brush them off and continue riding their high horse which is I am afraid is what they are doing.

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