ACROSS Asia, rising newspaper sales are bucking the trend of dipping circulations in Europe and the US. China is now the world’s largest newspaper market with 107m copies sold every day, while India shifts 99m. Investors are jumping on the bandwagon by acquiring titles or launching new ones.
Mint, for example, is an Indian business daily launched by the Hindustan Times group and the Wall Street Journal. It now has a daily circulation of 120,000 and is on course to break even. Editor Raju Narisetti, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, is optimistic the conditions are ripe to keep the newspaper market buoyant across Asia, and in particular India, for at least another decade, in stark contrast to the gloom besetting “dead tree” media further afield.
“Internet penetration is very, very low in India,” says Narisetti. “It will change, but it’s not happening yet. As a result it will be 10 to 15 years before some of the problems of newspapers in the West are dealing with come to India.” The Indian market’s growth has led to a feeding frenzy for media companies that could end with blood on the carpet. “There’s a ‘gold rush’ of sorts,” says Narisetti. “Some will flame out in disaster and some will be successful.”Indonesia’s market is nowhere near as crowded. But it has some of the same economic and social pluses as India, prompting businessman James Riyandi to bankroll the Jakarta Globe, a new daily newspaper. He believes the paper can exploit the market dramatically better than the Jakarta Post, currently selling 30,000 to 35,000 copies per day.
In Cambodia, where a racing economy hit 9.6 per cent growth last year, Australian investors have bought out Michael Hayes, founder of the English-language Phnom Penh Post, who remains editor-in-chief. The Post, which will compete against the non-profit Cambodia Daily and the recently launched Mekong Times, has a circulation of just 3,000 as a fortnightly.
But even in this backwater, reassuringly, some things still hold true: newspaper barons and their egos. The latest salvo in the long-running feud between Hayes and the Cambodia Daily’s founder, fellow American Bernie Krishner, 76, came when Krishner discovered the Post was attempting to poach journalists.
— The Guardian, London