BCCL sues VRL Chief Vijay Sankeshwar over use of newspaper title Vijaya
Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd ( BCCL), publishers of India‘s largest selling English newspaper – The Times of India, is moving to stem competition in the Kannada newspaper market which commands advertising revenues of Rs 500 crore.
The media giant has moved court against businessman and former newspaper baron Vijay Sankeshwar, who is attempting to return to the business five years after he sold India’s second-largest Kannada daily to BCCL.
Sankeshwar on Sunday re-launched a 58-year-old title, Vijaya Vani. He owned Vijaya Karnataka before selling out to BCCL. It is now staging a comeback in to the Kannada newspaper space, after the five-year no-compete clause came to an end in March this year.
His newspaper, Vijaya Vani, has three editions in Bangalore, Mangalore and Hubli. It will be expanded to seven more locations in the next two months with an initial investment of Rs 125 crore.
“The title and the newspaper Vijaya Vani has been in existence since 1954 in Tumkur district of Karnataka as a district tabloid. We acquired the title during July 2011 and re-launched it as a broad-sheet with multi-editions across Karnataka on April 1, 2012. If the Times Group did not have objections to the title for the past so many years, it is surprising that they have objections now all of a sudden. The word Vijaya is a common name and no-one can own it. The case against us cannot sustain. “There are few other newspapers in Karnataka with the titles Praja Vani, Samyukta Karnataka and Udaya Vani which has some overlap with our and the BCCL title, but we co-exist,”
Vijay Sankeshwar also owns VRL Logistics, which has a topline of Rs 1,000 crore, is India’s largest operator of cargo trucks and among the top fleet owners of passenger buses plying between cities and towns. It is estimated that VRL Logistics owns a fleet of over 2,000 vehicles.
The Kannada newspaper market includes Praja Vani owned by ‘The Printers (Mysore) Ltd’ who also publish English daily Deccan Herald, the second largest English daily in Karnataka. The advertising revenues of the Kannada newspaper market is around Rs 500 crore and all the Kannada dailies put together sell around two million copies daily.
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