Essel Group starts new daily – Zee Marathi Disha

Regional newspapers gaining traction

Zee Marathi

Mumbai-based Essel Group recently forayed into printing with the launch of its weekly Marathi newspaper, Zee Marathi Disha. This will be a first-of-its-kind of offering by a television network in print. Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra, unveiled the weekly on 5 December 2017.

Vijay Kuvalekar has been appointed Editor-in-Chief of Zee Marathi Disha. Speaking on the launch, Kuvalekar said, “In the cluttered news space with multiple news formats, there is a lacuna of a single aggregator which brings together the entire array of content suitable for family. Credibility and in-depth analysis is lacking in modern times. The reader is looking for solutions from experts which can cater to multiple people in the same household.”

The Marathi weekly will cover genres like current affairs, business, health, entertainment, technology and kids. The 44-page weekly newspaper aims to be a family favorite, targeting new-age readers, who are ambitious and savvy, yet rooted in culture. Zee Marathi Disha will be available to readers in 130 towns across Maharashtra, hitting newsstands on every Saturday and through subscription.

Sanjeev Garg, chief executive officer, DNA and Zee Marathi Disha,  shared, “There was a clear opportunity to create a vibrant and premium newspaper that is an aggregator for the whole family. The market looks for brands that they can trust in the era of fake news. Zee Marathi Disha will resonate with the values, ambition and the mind-set of every household in Maharashtra. It was about time that we had differentiated, yet extremely relevant, content served to the readers in Maharashtra and we readily accepted the challenge. The clutter-busting approach of adopting an all family inclusive newspaper as opposed to the traditional segmentation helps in getting families together though the product.”

The brand positioning of the Marathi weekly clearly states that it will contain something that will get the family back together again with its wide range of content in a single newspaper. In-depth analysis of topics that impact consumers and relentless pursuit of truth are the values around which the brand plans to center its content.

As per Fadnavis, “One may be surprised that a group like Zee, which is well-entrenched in electronic media, is turning towards print. But then, Subhashji is known for his innovative spirit. I am sure that like  Sukh Wartaon Zee 24 Taas, Disha, too, will provide much needed positivity to society at large.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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