Mid-Day's Sunder Kondur joins Vijay Times; to oversee Bangalore Mirror launch

MUMBAI: The Times Group is revving up action for its soon to be unveiled daily tabloid Bangalore Mirror, and is now looking at a March-April launch timeline. Ahead of the launch, it has poached Sundar Kondur, the publisher of rival tabloid Bangalore Mid-Day.

Kondur joins 1 March as head of corporate and brand strategy and will be overseeing the launch and transformation of the daily broadsheet Vijay Times to the tabloid Bangalore Mirror. A direct fallout of the decision to morph VT into a tabloid has been the recent resignation of its editor, Krishna Prasad.

Mid-Day managing director Tariq Ansari confirmed to Indiantelevision.com that a new business head would be in place soon, saying, "We are considering a number of candidates for the replacement of Sundar Kondur as Bangalore head and should make an announcement in the next week or so."

In the tabloid stakes, Bangalore Mirror will be stacking up against Mid-Day Bangalore, which has been in existence a little over seven months in India's IT hub. It is of course true that the Mirror, being a morning tabloid, is not a direct competitor to Mid-Day so one could well argue that the Bangalore market should have the capacity to accommodate both products.

If that is the case, then possibilities of a strategic partnership between Times and Mid-Day, similar to the one existing in Mumbai for cooperation in printing, circulation and advertising sales, cannot be totally discounted. A point of note is that the Times Group has a 6.65 per cent stake in Mid-Day.

Ansari hinted as much when he stated, "Our alliance with the Times Group is across all publishing centres. The operating teams are working out how we will ally for mutual benefit in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.

As far as the English dailies in Bangalore are concerned, the other players are Deccan Herald, The Hindu, The New Indian Express and The Asian Age.

According to information available with Indiantelevision.com, Bangalore Mirror will be targeted at the young and upwardly mobile. In its coverage it will be packed with Bangalore-centric stories, lots of sports, entertainment, IT and glamour news, with a sprinkling of national and international stories.

It was in June 2006 that Bennet Coleman, owners of the Times Group publications, acquired Vijayanand Printers Ltd (VPL). In the VPL stable were three publications - the English language broadsheet Vijay Times (soon to morph into Bangalore Mirror) and Kannada dailies Vijay Karnataka and Usha Kiran.

One of the first things that Ravi Dhariwal, Bennett Coleman executive director and recently made CEO, Times Publishing, did post acquisition was to close down Usha Kiran. In its place, a mirror version of The Times of India in Kannada is being published.

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