Television

We are in the advertising business: BCCL MD Vineet Jain

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MUMBAI: Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd. (BCCL), which owns The Times of India Group of newspapers, is a dominant player in the media business in India because it is very advertisement savvy.

"We are not in the newspaper business, we are in the advertising business," Vineet Jain, the managing director of BCCL, is quoted as saying by The New Yorker, while dwelling on the dominance of his company in the media business in India.

The argument of BCCL is that with newspapers sold so cheaply and generating little circulation revenue, newspapers depend more on ad revenue. "If ninety per cent of your revenues come from advertising, you're in the advertising business," Jain says. His elder brother Samir Jain is the vice-chairman of BCCL.

These comments by Jain appear as part of a feature by The New Yorker, a US magazine published since 1925, on the dominant media conglomerate which appeared on 8 October.

"Both of us think out of the box. We don't go by the traditional way of doing business," Vineet Jain said.

The New Yorker notes that the Times group flagship The Times of India's innovations begin in its eight-page second section, which is titled the Bombay Times. The section brims with color pictures of seductive women and muscular men, along with stories of Bollywood stars, handsome cricket pros, and international celebrities.

The day The New Yorker's Ken Auletta met Vineet Jain, the lead story in Bombay Times had described how aspiring actors, including a sultry Saiyami Kher, "are keen to start their innings in Bollywood."

Jain explained to Auletta that, like the surrounding stories, it (the lead story) was written by members of the reporting staff and paid for by the celebrities or their publicists.

The feature said an internal company report in June lauded the strategy as "so important that today nearly all Bollywood movie releases pay for promotional coverage ahead of movie releases, and actors/actresses pay to develop their brand through coverage in the paper."

Jain got the idea after reading an interview with Richard Branson, the owner of the UK's Virgin Group, in which Branson remarked that the reason he parachutes from airplanes and performs similar stunts is that, with this free publicity, he annually saves his company tens of millions of dollars in advertising.

"When I read it, I said, 'Oh, my God, eureka—I'm stupid!' " Vineet Jain said. "Why these guys are not advertising in my paper is because I'm giving them free P.R."

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