India’s newspaper industry is still growing but can it adapt?

India’s newspaper industry is still growing but can it adapt?
D Shivakumar

At the end of this week, on 10 and 11 August there is the INMA Conference in Airport City in the Delhi NCR. Next week, on 16 and 17 August the WAN-IFRA Conference on Monetization of Content takes place in Hyderabad. These are challenging times and we look forward to meeting you at the INMA Conference to get your inputs on who you think belongs in this year’s 50 Fastest Growing Newspapers in India issue to be published in September.

We are hard at work on putting together the 7th Annual 50 Fastest Growing Newspapers of India issue that will also be distributed at the WAN-IFRA Conference in Chennai from 12 to 14 September. Newspaper revenues including advertising, circulation and digital revenues still provide advertisers an effective way of reaching a significant audience in India.

Nevertheless the industry is in somewhat of a panic trying to re-invent itself as digital news websites and aggregators erode their income and growth rates. We plan to examine creative disruption and digital growth as significant factors in evaluating news organizations that are the fastest at adaptation to a changing universe.

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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