South Indian Media: Why is Sankeshwar interested in Media?

Mahesh Kulkarni writes in an article Sankeshwar to ‘disrupt’ Kannada papers, again in Business Standard

Vijay Sankeshwar is addicted to shaking things up. A decade after this businessman and politician from Gadag district in North Karnataka revolutionised the Kannada newspaper industry by launching Vijaya Karnataka, a paper that quickly outstripped the then market leader Praja Vani, he is doing it all over again.

Why is Sankeshwar so interested in the newspaper world? The roots of it probably are in the fact that his family used to run a small publishing press which put out study guides for the state SSLC exams. Then, as evinced from his sale of Vijay Karnataka for Rs 300 crore, there was good money to be made in the business. Also, don’t discount the fact that newspapers are a wonderful platform for budding politicians. Sankeshwar, after all, was once a BJP Member of Parliament from Dharwad North and is now a Legislative Council member in Bangalore.

Sankeshwar’s tremendous advantage lies in his vast logistics network that he can leverage to reach out to every nook and cranny of the state, ensuring that his newspapers are deposited on the doorsteps of his readers early in the morning. Sankeshwar plans to roll out Vijaya Vani across 10 cities in Karnataka over a period of one year. He has already launched six editions across key cities in the state. He has set up his own printing sites in these locations and will take delivery of five new printing press over the next five months.

It may almost seem like Sankeshwar rued his decision to part with the ground-breaking Vijaya Karnataka. As soon as his lock-in period was over, he was back in business, this time purchasing a 57-year-old district-level tabloid, Vijaya Vani, published from Tumkur, and re-launching it as a state-level broadsheet newspaper on April 1, 2012. He met with opposition almost immediately. The Times group raised an objection to the title, Vijaya Vani, saying it clashed with the one the group had bought from Sankeshwar, namely Vijaya Karnataka, and filed a case in the Bangalore city court.

“The name Vijaya is not their family property. Anybody can have the name Vijaya. It only shows their desperation and they are scared of our aggressive launch. I consider it as an unhealthy practice,” said Sankeshwar in response.

Vijaya Vani may not be the force that its predecessor used to be, but considering Sankeshwar’s track record, it may be a good idea to take his words seriously. After all, his name is not just on those papers, it also means ‘victory.’’

Read the full article Sankeshwar to ‘disrupt’ Kannada papers, again in Business Standard

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