‘ToI more known for marketing than journalism’

In a very candid interview with B. Judy Franko of Exchange4Media, N. Murali, the managing director of The Hindu, talks of the Madras market, post the entry of The Times of India:

# On rumours that The Hindu is talking to Fairfax of Australia for a possible minority stake sale: “The reports are baseless.”

# On The Times success in other cities: “The Telegraph in Calcutta and Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad dropped their cover price [when Times entered their markets], but are still holding on to the lead. In Bangalore, however, Deccan Herald did not respond to counter ToI and, therefore, surrendered the lead to the Times long ago.”

# On the difficulties of retaining staff when The Times came in: “We had to increase the compensation to the journalists and the marketing team. ToI was able to offer any price for people. We have not lost any talent to ToI except a legal reporter and a sub-editor and hardly anybody from the marketing department.”

# On The Times as competition: “Times is known more for marketing than journalism. However, it can always step up on the journalism front as well…. A newspaper like ToI will not take strong views on issues, whether it is social, democratic or political, but what they have been able to do best is to create a connect with the local people wherever they are present. Times has always reflected the flavour of the city and different editions of Times are local. However, it lacked the commonality. Apart from the entertainment and lifestyle aspect, creating a connect with the local people has been their plus point.”

# On who will be affected more in Madras: “Times has also been realistic in stating that their idea is not to supplant the market leader, though that could be their wish…. My hunch is that Times, apart from expanding, will eat into the circulation of Deccan Chronicle and New Indian Express. Chronicle, I am told, is already feeling the impact. Express, which does not have a big base, will also be affected. But I think it is Chronicle that will be affected more.”

Read the full interview here: The N. Murali dialogue

Also read: The greatgrandmother of all newspaper battles

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