Newspaper Battle on the Streets of Mumbai

06 May 2005

A newspaper turf war is hotting up on the streets of Mumbai, India's commercial capital.

Publishers are using any number of means to buy the loyalty of all-important street vendors as new publications prepare to flood the market.

Bennett Coleman, the country's largest media group and owner of The Times of India, is offering free health insurance to street sellers as it awaits the arrival of rival Hindustan Times' Mumbai edition next month.

It is to be joined by another newspaper from Dainik Bhaskar, publisher of Hindi-language titles, and Zee, the largest TV broadcaster.

The UK's Telegraph and Daily Mail groups are also looking at establishing strongholds in the city or expanding them.

The sub-continent's national print advertising market for English, Hindi and other Indian language publications is worth around Rs35 billion ($806m; €623bm; £424m).

Mumbai's English language newspapers command 23% of this spend currently. The market is also seen as under-penetrated. Just 1.5m newspapers are sold daily in a city of around 16m people,. Yet, according to readership surveys, a third of Mumbai's population is literate in English, of whom nearly half read a daily English paper.

This, says Ajay Sondhi, managing director of Kotak Mahindra's investment bank unit, "makes Mumbai a large and attractive market with room to grow".

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff