In India, print media story is still intact

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According to Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) data, print publications in this country had an increase in average daily circulation of 23.7 million copies from 2006 to 2016.

From 39.1 million in 2006, the average number of copies circulated a day grew to 62.8 million, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.87 per cent. Among the four main geographic zones, the north showed the highest growth at 7.83 per cent. Growth in the south, west and east was 4.95 per cent, 2.81 per cent and 2.63 per cent, respectively. 

This is contrary to the trend in the developed world, where print circulation is in decline, losing to digital news consumption. As part of the half-yearly data issued by ABC (this is for July-December 2016), it quoted from the WAN-INRA WPT 2016 Report (an international report on paid print circulation trends). In developed economies such as America, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and Britian, paid print circulation showed yearly drops of up to 12 per cent in some cases. India, however, showed 14 per cent, 18 per cent and 12 per cent growth on this measure in the years 2013, 2004, and 2015, respectively. 

India also defies the trend on the number of paid dailies in circulation, says the WAN-INFRA report. While the other countries on the list have shown stagnation in this number across years 2013, 2014 and 2015, India saw the number grow by as much as 2,000 titles. 

At the release of the half-yearly report, Shashi Sinha, an ABC board member and chief executive of IPG Media Brands India, said multiple reasons were driving the growth of paid print in this country. “Among other things, the growth in literacy and education has created substantial headroom for growth of newspapers. Additionally, they are easily available and among the cheapest sources of news available. I think, most importantly, the written word still carries more credibility when it comes to India, a huge positive for print,” Sinha said.

The bulk of paid circulation is dominated by dailies in English and other languages. These now account for nearly 56 million of the total circulation in the period under study. Hindi language dailies were the highest at 22 million copies a day, followed by English at 8.55 million, Malayalam (4.55 million) and Marathi (4.33 million). 

While the penetration of English in the country is improving, as are literacy rates, it is important to remember, underlined Sinha, that literacy growth is most in the native/mother language of most individuals. Hence, the growth of regional dailies and publications is more robust than their English counterparts. 

Hindi publications grew at an 8.76 CAGR from 2006 to 2016; English publications grew at 2.87 per cent. 

Other language publications to show significant growth are Telugu (8.28 per cent), Kannada (6.4 per cent), Tamil (5.51 per cent) and Malayalam (4.11 per cent).

Among the top 10 publications by circulation for the July-December 2016 period, Dainik Jagran topped at 3.9 million copies. Followed by Dainik Bhaskar at 3.8 million and The Times of India at 3.18 million. Five of the top 10 publications were Hindi, two were in Malayalam, and one each in Telugu, English and Tamil.  

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