Samay, August 15 : Old lady of Boru Bunder to take on Aveek Sarkar in Bengal

Shine Jacob writes in Business Standard:

Set to launch its first Bengali daily by year-end.

It may well be the clash of the titans in West Bengal’s media industry. The country’s largest media conglomerate, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), also known as the Times group &  ” The Old Lady Of Bori Bunder” , is set to battle it out in the regional media space with Aveek Sarkar’s family-owned Anandabazar Patrika (ABP). There were speculations that the Bengali newspaper would be named Samay and launched by August 15. The hiring process had been initiated, though the group had not finalised on who would be the editor.

According to sources close to the development, the Times group is planning to launch a Bengali newspaper by the end of this year. While The Times of India is the largest broadsheet daily in the country, Anandabazar Patrika is the largest Bengali newspaper. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures, Anandabazar Patrika has a circulation of nearly 1,250,000, while its nearest competitor, Bartaman, has a circulation of 534,000 copies. Other major competitors in the vernacular space are Aajkaal, Sangbad Pratidin, Ganashakti, Sakalbela, Ekdin and NEWZ Bangla.

The plan to launch a Bengali daily is considered to be a move by the Times Group to position itself against ABP in the vernacular space. In Bengali, TOI  has two magazines, Samay and Udita. The Times Group has a strong presence in regional markets, with dailies like Navbharat Times and Sandhya Times (evening tabloid) in Hindi, Maharashtra Times in Marathi and Vijaya Karnataka in Kannada.

Anandabazar Patrika, founded in 1922 by Prafulla Chandra Sarkar, is the largest read Bengali newspaper, with a readership of more than six million, according to Indian Readership Survey reports.

India’s own(ed), Anand Bazar Patrika News

ABP STAR News

The MCCS on Monday announced that its popular Hindi news channel, STAR News, will soon be rechristened as ABP News. Bengali news channel STAR Ananda will be ABP Ananda and the Marathi news channel STAR Majha will be called ABP Majha.

The three 24-hour news channels are owned by the Media Content and Communications Pvt Ltd (MCCS) – a joint venture between the Ananda Bazar Patrika Group and STAR India Pvt Ltd. Both Ananda and Majha are No 1 news channels in their respective markets since inception.

Star India Pvt Ltd and ABP, the principle shareholders, have agreed to discontinue the Star brand affiliation with the MCCS. Going forward Star wishes to focus on building their brand on their core business that is general entertainment.

The core business of the ABP is news and it wishes to promote and establish its own brands in the broadcast news space through its subsidiary company – MCCS. MCCS has sustained its affiliation with Star brand for 8 years and both have benefitted from this association.

In these years the three news channels have evolved into respected market leaders in their segment, which has helped MCCS become a strong and respected company in the broadcast news space.

It has quality resources in its employees and built good equity among its stakeholders – loyal viewers’ base, clients, distributors and vendor partners.

Content on all three channels are managed by some of the finest editors, journalists, anchors and technical professionals who have consistently maintained the highest standards of honest and ethical journalism. They would continue to maintain high standards of news quality, with same integrity, transparency and speed.

Malayala Manorama: No. 1 language daily of India

Malayala Manorama remains the No. 1 language daily of the country. The newspaper has added 25,000 readers in IRS Q4 2011 after having lost 50,000 readers in the previous quarter. Its current AIR stands at 99.37 lakh compared with 99.12 in the last quarter and 99.62 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. It had added 24,000 readers in the second quarter of IRS 2011 and 8,000 readers in IRS Q1 2011.

Marathi dailyLokmat is back as India’s second most read language daily. Lokmat was dislodged from the No. 2 position by Tamil newspaper Daily Thanthi in the previous quarter. Similarly, Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika has regained the No. 5 position in IRS Q4 2011. It was dislodged from the No. 5 rank by Telugu daily Eenadu in the previous quarter. One more change is at No. 7 where Telugu daily Sakshi has overtaken Tamil daily Dinakaran.

Marathi daily Lokmat, which is back at the No.2 position, has recorded a growth of 1.66 per cent by adding 1.24 lakh readers this quarter. Its current AIR stands at 75.62 lakh against 74.38 lakh in the previous quarter and 75.95 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. It had added 1.09 lakh readers in IRS Q2 2011.

Tamil newspaper Daily Thanthi has slipped to No. 3 despite adding 56,000 readers in Q4 of IRS 2011. It had added 1.57 lakh readers in the previous quarter to take the No. 2 position. Daily Thanthi has recorded an AIR of 75.03 lakh against 74.47 lakh in the previous quarter and 72.90 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. It had also added 1.03 lakh readers in Q2 and 1.73 lakh readers in Q1.

At No. 4 is Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, which has registered a marginal growth in its AIR. By adding 36,000 readers in IRS Q4 2011, the daily has recorded an AIR of 66.66 lakh compared with 66.30 in the previous quarter and 66.90 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. Mathrubhumi had lost 1.1 lakh readers in IRS Q2 2011 but added 1.63 lakh readers in IRS Q1 2011.

Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika has made a comeback at No. 5 despite losing a few readers. It has lost 49,000 readers in IRS Q4 2011 while it had added 35,000 readers in the previous quarter. Its current AIR stands at 60.49 lakh compared with 60.98 lakh in the previous quarter and 60.63 in IRS Q2 2011. It had lost 55,000 readers in IRS Q2 2011 and 54,000 readers in Q1 2011.

By losing 1,10,000 readers in IRS Q4 2011, Eenadu has lost its No.5 position. Now at No. 6, it has recorded an AIR of 59.91 lakh against 61.01 lakh in the last survey and 60.32 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. Eenadu had added 69,000 readers in IRS Q3 2011 and 41,000 readers in IRS Q2 2011 but lost 50,000 readers in IRS Q1 2011.

Telugu daily Sakshi has climbed up the rankings for the second quarter in a row to acquire the No. 7 position. After adding 1.13 lakh readers in the last survey, Sakshi has added 84,000 readers in IRS Q4 2011. Its current AIR stands at 53.03 lakh against 52.19 lakh in the previous quarter and 51.06 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. It had added 64,000 readers in IRS Q2 2011 and 88,000 readers in the first quarter of IRS 2011.

Tamil daily Dinakaran, which was growing on quarter-on-quarter basis, has seen a marginal decline this quarter and lost its 7th position. Now at No. 8, the daily has recorded an AIR of 52.27 lakh against 52.53 lakh in the previous quarter, 51.67 lakh in IRS Q2 2011 and 51.23 lakh in IRS Q1 2011. Dinakaran had added 86,000 readers in IRS Q3 2011, 44,000 readers in the second quarter of IRS 2011 and 1.46 lakh readers in Q1.

Gujarat Samachar has again registered a marginal loss. It had slipped down to No. 7 position from No. 9 in the last survey. The daily has recorded an AIR of 51.69 lakh compared with 51.86 lakh in the previous quarter and 52.2 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. The paper had lost 56,000 readers in IRS Q2 2011 but added 99,000 readers in IRS Q1 2011.

Marathi paper Daily Sakal continues at No. 10. It has registered an AIR of 44 lakh compared with 42.73 lakh in the previous quarter and 44.48 lakh in IRS Q2 2011. The daily had lost 1.73 lakh readers in IRS Q3 2011, 1.2 lakh readers in IRS Q2 2011 and 84,000 readers in IRS Q1 2011.

Anandabazar Patrika eyes STAR

Indian media group Anandabazar Patrika aims to buy out STAR Group‘s 26 percent stake in their Indian television joint venture, the Business Standard reported on Monday.

The group is parting ways with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled television group after months of discontent over editorial and other strategic issues, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed official involved in the negotiations.

“It’s final now. The two legal teams are working out the details and the fine print will be clear very soon,” it quoted the official as saying.

Dipankar Das Purkayastha, managing director of Anandabazaar Patrika, denied any such plans, the paper said.

Media Content & Communications Services India Pvt Ltd, the joint venture, runs three news channels in India – STAR News in Hindi, STAR Ananda in Bengali and STAR Majha in Marathi.

“This is a closely held joint venture. I am not going to comment on market speculation,” the paper quoted Uday Shankar, chief executive of STAR India Pvt Ltd, as saying.

MAMATA’S BAN ON NEWSPAPER : Face of Fascism

In West Bengal‘s 2,482 state run libraries there is a new notice pasted. There will be no English papers to read. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) government has banned all English dailies and at least two leading Bengali newspapers in state funded libraries.

The government circular says “In public interest, Government will not buy newspapers published or purported to be published by any political party either national or regional as a measure to develop free thinking among the readers.”Libraries in Kolkata have already begun displaying the notice saying- following a government order dated 14 March 2012; only eight newspapers will henceforth be available.

In the list of newspapers now banned are the names of two leading Bengali dailies, the Ananda Bazar Patrika and Bartaman; both not owned by political parties.The only banned newspaper that is published by a political party is Ganashakti, which is a CPM mouthpiece.

Ironically, of the 8 newspapers available to readers, Sangbad Pratidin is a Bengali paper owned by TMC Rajya Sabha (RS) MP Srinjoy Bose. The Associate Editor is Kunal Ghosh who has just been elected to RS on TMC ticket.Also on that list is Sanmarg, a Hindi newspaper whose director is Vivek Gupta and Akbar-e-Masriq whose senior journalist is Nadimul Haq. Both Mr Gupta and Mr Haq have just been elected to RS on TMC ticket.

Users of public libraries are already surprised and shocked at this decision of the state government and suspect newspapers critical of the government have been banned. The issue was brought up in the state Assembly by a Congress MLA who called the government circular undemocratic and urged the chief minister to have it withdrawn. Mamata Banerjee was not present in the Assembly at that time.The West Bengal government has said it will not reverse the order.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has appreciated the move, on her directive by Library Services Minister Abdul Karim Chowdhury. It is to be noted that sometime back she had publicly announced that Star TV is the enemy of the State and people should not view the Channel.

This is worse than censorship; this has shades of fascism.