West Bengal hastens the death of the printed newspaper

This morning, I wanted to check out the coverage of the Durga Puja in the two new, competing Bengali newspapers, eBela from the Ananda Bazar Patrika Group, and Ei Samay, from Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited.

Both the epapers had not been updated since Sunday, 21 October – which was puzzling. Normally, epapers are updated in the wee hours of the publishing day, and with the newness of the competition between the two titles, one would have thought that the two would try and gain an edge by being the first to be published digitally in the morning.

A few minutes ago, a colleague mentioned to another that Kolkata newspapers were enjoying a four day holiday.

A quick check of Sunday’s Times of India epaper confirmed this.

This is the notice one saw on the front page of the newspaper.

 West Bengal hastens the death of the printed newspaperAt a time when readers are  migrating from the circulation paid, advertising-laden, printed form of the newspaper to the free, low advertising yield, digital form, the last thing publishers would want to do is to lose revenue – but that is what all Kolkata publishers seem to have done by the four-day holiday.

Not printing newspapers during the last three days of the Durga Puja (when readers would be on holiday, with plenty of time to read the newspapers) and the day after Dashami, the last day of the celebrations, makes no sense whatsoever. Newspaper ads could have helped retailers and restaurants talk to and attract consumers, could have caused multiplexes to put up House Full signs, and so on.

The print holiday would have forced those hungry for news to check out the internet for the latest – and that’s four days of forced sampling in a row. If readers enjoy the free reading experience, there’s the possibility that they might wonder – as many are doing across the world – why on earth they should continue to pay for the news when they could get it free.

As far as Kolkata papers are concerned, they’re playing with fire – and with their revenue plans and business models.

 

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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2012 16:01:14 IST