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Budget 2018: Print Industry hopeful of turning the tide by riding the digital wave

05-February-2018
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Budget 2018: Print Industry hopeful of turning the tide by riding the digital wave

The Union Government, in its last full-fledged budget before the 2019 general elections, has made its intentions clear on boosting the digital sector and improving the digitisation process in India.

exchange4Media reached out to several print players to know if they felt left out in the race of digital first and the reactions were mixed. Some felt side-lined while others took it to the chin and have hope for the sector.

Paresh Nath, Publisher, Delhi Press, felt that there was nothing good for the print industry in the budget. "It is an exercise in futility. There is no direction in the budget. There is no far reaching impact of the budget proposal. Even middle class and farmers will not get any benefit. They are big consumers for media but they don't have any money, they can't buy either digital or print media," he said.

He also believed that the government is only increasing its footprint in rural India so that they can extract more taxes. "This is to collect money and force each and every trader and probably farmer to pay tax. Even GST has been designed in such a way. The government wants to extent its computer tentacles everywhere. It's not to inform and educate the farmer. It will not increase productivity or information. It feels like we're all only interested in reaching the rural area and getting money out of it," Nath felt.

Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO, Sakal Group , said digital being trusted far more in this budget is a positive sign. On being asked if print will be impacted negatively with government boosting digital, he said, "No. Print will have its own relevance and it will continue on account of higher consumer sentiment and higher investment by corporate into building capacity, etc. Print on the back of increasing literacy will continue."

He suggested that Print could turn the budget in its favour by utilising its resources in digital. "With increased digital literacy, a newer generation of audience will come; which is already growing well. From an advertising and marketing stand point, it's very positive and I don't see anything negative about Print. Print in fact will take the advantage of the entire ecosystem development and consumer sentiment improvement. It is a very positive budget," he said.

Foreseeing a growth in regional digital media reach, Amit Gupta, CEO, AMEL, was confident about the ad spending to come. "The non-metro and rural markets will see an expanded spending on consumer durables, FMCG and other ad spending categories. There is a significant focus on digital growth across verticals and touch points including phasing all blackboards from classrooms to digital boards by 2022. Our homeland Kerala has already taken lead in the same. On the back of this, strongly positioned vernacular multi-media technology vehicle like Asianet News Network will see an uptick with more companies increasing their ad spends to reach the non-urban markets catering to the increased demands," he said.

Devendra Darda, Managing Director, Lokmat Media Group was in agreement with the positive sentiments for the 2018 Budget. "The budget has thankfully kept the interest of the consumers and readers in mind. It's a consumer-friendly budget and there has not been any major ups and downs. However, it is also looking at the business growth and entrepreneurship in the country. We look forward to manage our news print cost and giving the best to our readers," he said.

"With an eye on the next general elections and those in crucial states, the smart bet was always on the union budget being more Bharat-friendly than India-oriented. However, it's encouraging to see that the govt has significantly focussed on holistic healthcare and education. The reduction of corporate tax by 25 per cent for companies with a turnover of Rs. 250 crore is quite commendable," said Shreyas Kumar, Mathrubhumi, Jt MD of Mathrubhumi.

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