soon, Indian editions of Time, Newsweek and more
By Venkata Vemuri
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) Things never looked so good for the
booming Indian news bazaar. The government's green signal
to publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines has
sparked enthusiasm among publishing majors, marketing managers
and media experts.
They say the decision - which will entail 26 percent FDI and
editorial control in Indian hands - will mean more foreign
titles in an Indian avatar, more advertising, more competition,
Above all, readers hungry for quality news have emerged as
winners in this important move that could be a prelude to
a much bigger opening of the protected Indian print market.
Now readers starved of quality foreign news, who had to surf
the Internet for access, can expect to get magazines like
Time, Newsweek, The Economist or BusinessWeek at half the
price in the not-too-distant future.
"It's good for promoters, it's good for advertisers and
it's good for everybody," Ashish Bagga, CEO of Living
Media India Ltd, which publishes India Today and has an arrangement
for marketing Time magazine in India, told IANS.
Bagga said: "The market is going to expand. There will
be more brands and more titles. It's good for the magazine
S. Nihal Singh, a well-known columnist and former editor of
The Statesman, said it was the logical conclusion of greater
exposure to the Internet. "People can easily access these
magazines on the internet. It's realistic to remove restrictions."
The cabinet's Sep 18 decision is widely seen as an ambitious
move that could prove a prelude to further removing curbs
on foreign investment in the print media, including newspapers
The decision enables Indian publishers to strike deals with
foreign publishers of magazines and roll out cheaper Indian
editions with up to 100 percent foreign content, and to sell
advertising space in India.
It gives an edge to newsmagazines over newspapers which are
also not allowed more than 20 percent foreign content.
Singh predicts greater competition and commercialisation of
the media in the days to come.
"The print media has already become heavily commercialised.
This decision will further intensify this trend," he
"It will also lead to upgradation of content and hopefully
better journalism and stories written in more readable English,"
Sevanti Ninan, a media critic and author of "Headlines
from the Heartland", is, however, slightly circumspect.
Ninan agrees that the move will make the magazine market,
which has been confined to a handful of titles in the news
and current affairs category, more competitive and reduce
the prices of these titles for readers.
But she is not sure how this will appeal to foreign publishers
who are already selling a larger number of copies in India.
Some 30,000 copies of Time are sold in India, according to
Bagga. Newsweek sells 35,000 copies.
Maheshwar Peri, publisher of Outlook magazine, which markets
and distributes Newsweek, has recommended raising the FDI
to 49 percent.
Much before the cabinet's decision, some media houses had
already entered into arrangements with big-ticket foreign
brands. The move will benefit them enormously.
For instance, the Anand Bazaar Patrika Group had joined hands
with Time Inc for an Indian edition of Fortune magazine. TV
18 India Ltd (TV18) plans to team up with Forbes Media, the
publishers of Forbes magazine, to publish a business magazine
later this year.
"Despite rising inflation and a slowing gross domestic
product, India remains one of the world's bright spots for
magazine publishing," wrote the New York Times recently.
Magazine advertising in India is expected to grow by 20 percent
to $302 million in 2008, it quoted the International Federation
of the Periodical Press as saying, leading to a virtual explosion
of Western and specialist magazines on the Indian newsstands
in the past year.
Vogue, Rolling Stone, Hello, People, Housekeeping and Marie
Clare have Indian editions while Conde Nast, the renowned
travel magazine, has set up a fully staffed Indian office
to write and print its fully owned titles.
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