NEW DELHI: Rising newsprint costs and a government move to publish ads of tender notices digitally are set to have an adverse impact on India’s newspapers.

According to Exchange4Media there has been a 40% increase in the price of newsprint in recent months, driven in part by the decision of China, the world’s largest paper recycler, to ban imports of mixed paper and plastic waste in order to combat environmental pollution; as a result it has now become an importer of newsprint, driving up global prices.

“Paper prices have gone up by 15%-18% and are expected to rise more,” said Indranil Roy, CEO, Outlook India. “It is and will continue to negatively impact the industry,” he told Exchange4Media, adding that GST had also added to publishers’ paper costs.

There has been no collective response to this developing situation. “The print industry as a whole has not taken a call,” said I Venkat, director at Eenadu, a Telugu language daily newspaper.

“Individual publications are taking their own measures,” he explained. “Some are cutting down the pages, some are increasing the retail price, some are increasing ad rates, etc.”

In a further blow to the newspaper industry, the central government announced earlier this month that there would no longer be compulsory publishing of tender notices in print media and that online advertisements of tenders would be allowed with immediate effect.

This decision is expected to hit newspaper revenues, although there are no details of exactly how many such ads are printed in the course of a year and how much revenue they generate.

India has long been one of the few bright spots for print media globally. Last year the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reported that the average number of copies of print publications had risen by 23.7 million over the 2006-16 decade.

Increases in literacy rates and education provision since independence have helped create fertile ground for the growth of newspapers, especially regional language ones, while observers have also suggested that readers find print credible and aspirational.

Sourced from Exchage4Media, ThePrint, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff