Now, a tabloid on personal finance from Times stable

Written by Alokananda Chakraborty | New Delhi, Aug 1 | Updated: Aug 2 2008, 05:33am hrs
Bennett, Coleman & Co Limited (BCCL), the publisher of The Times of India, and The Economic Times, plans to launch another financial daily in an already-crowded Indian print media market. To be launched in the tabloid format, it is expected to focus on personal finance.

Tentatively named Money Times, it was originally conceived to take on the proposed Financial Times venture in India. The launch of the BCCL tabloid, therefore, is expected to coincide with the launch of the FT venture. Financial Times, for the record, sold its stake in Business Standard earlier this year. It is now looking at a new venture with Network 18 and is partnering with Forbes to produce a business magazine in India.

R Sriram, deputy resident editor, The Times of India, Mumbai, may be handed the editors baton. Sriram referred calls to Ravi Dhariwal, CEO of BCCL. Dhariwal refused to comment on the development saying, All this is in the realm of speculation. Recruitment for the paper has already begun.

The personal finance market is currently serviced by DNA Money (Diligent Media Corporation, which owns DNA, is a joint venture between two industry majors, the Dainik Bhaskar Group and Zee Group) and by magazines such as Money Today (from the India Today group) and Outlook Money (from the Outlook group). The Outlook group also has a publication on pure stocks, Outlook Profit. At the specialised end of the market is Mutual Fund Insight brought out by Dhirendra Kumars Value Research. Besides The Financial Express, there are four business dailies competing with themThe Economic Times, Business Standard, Mint and Business Line.

The personal finance magazine market is fragmented and is cyclical in nature, says a media analyst. Circulation tends to rise and fall with the ups and downs of the stock market. In some cases we have seen stand sales of certain titles going down by as much as 40%. So is this the right time, given that the market has been in a tizzy for the last five/six months she asks.

For the Times Group, this is not exactly a new market to be in. With a readership of 7.37 lakh, its tabloid Mumbai Mirror is No 2 in the city. It has also experienced early success with Bangalore Mirror. In a surprise move, the group joined hands with archrival HT Media Ltd to publish Metro Now.

The opportunity is obvious. Estimates show there are 302 million newspaper readers in

India and 99 million copies are sold every day. Of course, there is the threat of rising newsprint pricesit is slated to touch $1,000 per tonne by the year-end, up from under $800 a tonne currentlybut Gutenbergs medium continues to grow at a scorching pace in India.