India's Anomalous Media Industry sees Go-Go Growth

By: CaraTan   Date: 31 July 2009

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Cara Tan, editor

 

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Mumbai, India, 31 July 2009. As most of the Western world sees a dramatic decline in print media revenues India is witnessing a new era in newspaper, TV, radio and web growth.

Just a few weeks ago, EconomyWatch reported that Old Media is Dying. The article warned of dying magazines and newspapers and suggested that online readership and advertising were the new trends, with newspapers never to be read again.

Obviously this doesn't hold true in India: India has one newspaper printed a day for every 20 citizens; in 1976 that ratio was one to 80.

The world's largest democracy has finally reached a point where the literacy rate in rural areas is catching up to the literacy rate in cities.

The nation's literacy rate is almost 70 percent, up from half that in 1976. And youth literacy is 82 percent and rising, ensuring long-term readership of newspapers and magazines.

With a population of more than a billion people print media like newspapers are the de facto form of mass communication. TV and radio exist, but are available to fewer people. There are an astonishing 62,000 newspapers in circulation today in India.

Computers and internet connections are still too expensive to permeate the whole nation, from the richest down to the poorest.

The reading habits of Indian newspapers and magazines are such that they are often passed around within families and friends. This sharing effectively multiplies the circulation, unlike in the West where one person reads a few articles in a newspaper and then trashes it.

One such example is the nation's largest Hindi newspaper, Dainik Jagran, with a circulation of more than 17 million but a readership of more than three times that: 56 million.

This isn't to say that TV, radio, and online media are not increasing as well - they are. It's nothing new to praise the phenomenal growth of India's IT industry or even satellite / cable TV, and radio.

These are givens in a nation at such a point in economic and industrial development. We won't bore you with an article about India's growth - nothing new there.

The result is that India is experiencing old media and new media booms simultaneously. The population is large and diverse enough that growth in every level of every media sector can be sustained.

So will India experience a media shakeout like that of the US and Europe, in which magazines die and newspapers are shunned by the youth? Not in our lifetimes.

Dwayne Ramakrishnan, EconomyWatch.com

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