'DNA' gears up for a price war

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: Daily News and Analysis (DNA), an English newspaper promoted by the Essel Group-Dainik Bhaskar 50:50 joint venture, is targeting a late July-early August debut in the Mumbai market that has started steaming up with high-profile launches.

According to a senior executive of the joint venture company, Diligent Media Corporation, the launch target is early August, but if the newspaper could debut before, probably by the third or fourth week of July, it would be ideal.

The price of DNA, which is being touted as a newspaper that will cater to the 'real needs of readers, has not yet been decided as the company promoting it is waiting for competition to react on the pricing front before deciding how much subsidization could be done.

Competition for DNA would come from evergreen leader The Times of India (TOI), Mumbai Mirror (a recently launched TOI group product in a compact format) and Hindustan Times, which, too, is targeting a July launch with its Mumbai edition.

Mirrors introductory pricing is Re 1 that will go up to Rs 2 after the first month. The industry buzz is that HT might price itself initially at Re 1 as well. It needs noting that the TOI's weekday price is Rs 4, while the weekend price is Rs 5.

Well have to see whether the mass circulating TOI drops it prices in anticipation of other newspapers launching in Mumbai before we decide DNAs cover price, the executive from Diligent Media said, admitting, Therell be skirmishes on the price front.

Diligent Media has already put up a state-of-the-art printing press in the Vashi area of Navi Mumbai with a capacity to print 450,000 copies.

In recent times, DNA has been poaching heavily from other newspapers for manpower, including senior editorial staffers. However, an editor-in-chief or equivalent has not yet been selected, though most section editors are in place.

The type of content that would be offered to readers via DNA is getting decided by the feedback from a massive survey launched by the Dainik Bhaskar group, which is a Bhopal-based regional media powerhouse with intentions of becoming a national player.

The executive added further that some 11 million respondents would be contacted for feedback on content and look.

Diligent Media is a joint venture, but an informal understanding between the partners is that the Bhaskar group would take care of distribution and operations, while Essel would be responsible for the editorial and marketing activities.

The Bhaskar group promoters, the Agarwal family, are seasoned businesspeople and have built up strong bases in Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

According to the latest NRS figures, Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar is the second largest circulating newspaper in the country.

The Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group has diverse national and global business interests, encompassing media programming, broadcast & distribution, specialty packaging, entertainment, telecom and trading.

Some of the companies promoted by Essel Group are Zee Telefilms Limited, Indias largest vertically integrated media and entertainment company; Essel Propack Limited, worlds largest lami tube packagers; Essel World and Water Kingdom theme parks and Playwin, Indias first online gaming service.

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