Kasturi & Sons, publisher of The Hindu, is considering foraying into the Tamil newspaper market.
When contacted, N Ram, director of Kasturi & Sons and former editor-in-chief of The Hindu Group, said the company had approved a proposal by its professional team, headed by the chief executive, to explore the feasibility and prospects of starting a Tamil daily. "Such exploratory exercises must not be mistaken for decisions or plans by our newspaper group."
Ram said the regional language newspaper market offered attractive opportunities. Kasturi & Sons expected its senior professional team to continually explore the market, keep track of such opportunities and report its findings to the board, he added.
A senior board member said the goal of competing against Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, publisher of The Times of India, which was aggressively looking at regional markets, was a trigger. Bennett, Coleman is already present in the Hindi (Navbharat Times), Marathi (Maharashtra Times), Kannada (Vijay Karnataka) and Bengali (Ei Samay) newspaper segments.
A senior director of the company said the executive management had proposed the move, saying there was "space for the group, since of the four Tamil newspapers, only three are serious players".
According to the group's proposal, within two years of launching the Tamil newspaper, the group could record annual circulation of 6,00,000 copies and annual revenue of about Rs 100 crore. It had proposed the paper have 16 pages and six supplements, said the director, on condition of anonymity. He added while the new venture would require a new management and a new team, it could share the group's facilities such as the printing press.
According to an estimate by Deloitte, Tamil Nadu accounts for 26 per cent of the overall regional print industry, estimated at about Rs 2,970 crore in 2011-12. The overall market in the South is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 12 per cent, to Rs 4,630 crore by 2016. Sandip Biswas, director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India, said the circulation ratio in Tamil Nadu was 75:100; if a shop or an agent sells 75 English newspapers, it sells 100 Tamil dailies
The dominant players in the Tamil daily market are Daily Thanthi, the Sun TV-owned Dinakaran, Dinamalar and Dinamani.
According to data by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, on an average, Daily Thanthi's current daily circulation stands at 15,62,769, against 14,52,702, a year earlier. Dinakaran's circulation is 12,43,284, compared with 14,13,180 a year earlier. The daily circulation of Dinamalar and Dinamani stand at 8,44,421 and 2,02,061, against 8,37,518 and 1,67,222 in the year-ago period, respectively.
Ninety per cent of the revenue for English dailies is accounted for by advertisements, with circulation contributing the remaining revenue. For Tamil dailies, 75 per cent revenue comes from advertisements, while 25 per cent comes from circulation.