Raj Jain of BCCL clears air about safety of home delivery of newspapers

Physical newspaper delivery has been disrupted in many cites

Newspaper delivery has been disrupted

With India under a 21-day lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak, there have been numerous reports that vendors are not picking up newspapers because resident welfare association and housing societies in cities like Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Mumbai, among others have barred newspaper delivery boys in their premises over safety issues.

In Mumbai, there has been no physical delivery of newspaper editions of Times of India, Economic Times, Hindustan Times and others since March 23. Raj Jain, chief executive officer, Bennett Coleman and Company (BCCL), has dismissed apprehensions in regards to the process of newspaper printing and distribution.

“Despite all the efforts and awareness, fake news is being circulated, especially with regards to the process of newspaper printing and distribution. I want each one of you to understand and further educate others within your ecosystem. The newspaper printing, folding and bundling are all done without the human touch,” Jain said.

He said that the bundles are loaded on to fumigated trucks by gloved and face-masked handlers and strict hygiene discipline has been encouraged amongst the delivery boys.

“More importantly, neither the WHO nor India’s Health Ministry has issued any report in any of its recommendations or advisories to restrict newspapers and milk packets as a step towards prevention/spread of the disease. There are enough eminent doctors including leading virologists who have categorically stated that the newspaper carries no risk of carrying the infection,” Jain added.

He said that newspaper is an essential commodity today owing to a heavy dose of misinformation floating on the electronic media and continues to deliver authenticated news and information around the epidemic.

“Please continue to receive your newspaper at home and rest assured it will only help in the crisis and not aggravate it,” he said.

The novel coronavirus, which started as an epidemic in China is now a global pandemic. The fast-moving deadly virus, Covid-19, has claimed thousands of lives across the globe and left many more people infected across over 150 countries so far. With the increasing number of cases in India, the government has put a three-week lockdown and simultaneously issued advisories to contain the spread of the disease.

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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