Dainik Jagran is the leading Hindi daily with the highest readership of any daily newspaper in the country according to the Readership Survey 2017 released on 18 January 2018. In the years since Jagran Prakashan attracted equity investment and went public, it has used a great deal of its capital and domain knowledge on well-considered expansion and modernization efforts. In the past dozen years, it has grown, invested and modernized to become one of the most profitable newspaper and media organizations in the country.
Expansion has meant not only new editions and printing centres, which now number 37 in 13 states. In 2006 the Jagran group started a bilingual youth daily iNext. It acquired the Mid-day Multimedia group in 2010 which brought to it the English daily Midday and the Urdu daily Inquilab both based out of Mumbai but also published subsequently in some of Jagran’s North Indian strongholds. The group acquired the Hindi daily Nai Dunia in Madhya Pradesh in 2012. Other expansions and extensions of the media group include radio and outdoor signage businesses.
The leading Hindi daily newspapers are growing now in smaller tier-3 cities and towns with full fledged editorial and printing operations that reach smaller surrounding towns in a radius of 50 to 60 kilometres, depending on the terrain and the overlap with the next viable tier-3 edition. We recently visited Moradabad where Jagran installed its first complete Sigmarq six 4-Hi tower web-offset newspaper press. While the population of Moradabad city is around one million (it was 887,871 in the 2011 census), Moradadbad district, which includes Ganj Moradabad, Harthala, Paikbara, Pipalsana, Mundha Pande, Kundarkhi, Tanda, Rampur, Asmauli, Patwai has a population of approximately 4.7 million.
The circulation of the six Hindi dailies in Moradabad is over 4 lakh with two Urdu dailies having a circulation of 50,000 copies. The three leading Hindi dailies Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran and Hindustan have a combined circulation of about 3,50,000. The basic paradigm for the growing Hindi dailies is that to compete for new readers and advertising, they need to produce at least 20 broadsheet pages daily in full color and most often 24 color pages including their regular supplements. During important festivals the pagination easily swells to 28 pages.
In 2016, Dainik Jagran decided to totally modernize its Moradabad plant with a new Sigmarq six tower press capable of printing 24 full-color pages at a time. The press, which was installed in September 2016, consists of six 4-Hi Crusader towers and a 2:2:2 folder with a 533 mm cut-off. The 40,000 copies an hour press was ordered after extensive tests on Sigmarq towers that were added to Jagran’s existing presses at several locations including its Noida plant.
The Sigmarq Crusader is an automated press in a plant that has been modernized to become a part of the Jagran’s centrally administered production network. The press contains several innovations that were specifically designed for Jagran such as a three motor panel which provides redundancy in the case of failure as well as energy savings when only some of the towers are needed to print fewer than the maximum pages. The integrated autopasters in each tower are capable of taking 1250 mm newsprint reels and servo drives have been fitted on the synchronized outfeed. At the behest of Jagran, there is a web catcher that prevents a wrap in the case of a web break and is also useful when webbing up for a quick restart and the press includes QI register controls and an Indian manufactured postpress conveyor system.
Standard features of the Sigmarq Crusader web offset are its bearer-to-bearer plate and blanket cylinders, hardened gears and twin oscillators in each ink train. The operator friendly control panel shows both the fault or failure and its location on its monitor and using pneumatics each tower of the press can be remotely engaged and disengaged.
The Jagran plant in Moradabad is a technologically up-to-date part of the daily paper’s editorial and production network with the editorial, advertising and page making systems geared to make, import and export pages as per local and group requirements. PPI media’s software is used at the back-end and for pairing pages that are sent to two new Agfa CtPs inline to processors. A Nela optical punch and bending device ensures precise registration on the Sigmarq press.
The plant is impressive and the head of the unit Anil Agarwal says the new press has greatly improved the quality of printing without a major breakdown over the past 15 months. He says that reel changes can be made at full speed and since the circulation is rising, given the need to be news competitive, the plant may need another press within two years.
When we asked Jagran’s group production head SK Singh who is based in Noida, about some of the reasons for purchasing the Sigmarq line, he said that the organization had tested the Crusader 4-Hi towers in multiple locations and come up with some useful ideas. It is also clear that Dainik Jagran has a great deal of technical and newspaper printing domain knowledge which it shared in asking for specific modifications in its press. The manufacturer has quite happily acceded to these and the result is a publisher’s newspaper press.