Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Newspapers galore

Nepali investors have proved that the 21st century is really the age of information. Till now [among Nepali-language broadsheet dailies] there were the more than 100 years old Gorkhapatra, the eight-year-old Kantipur, and later entrants Himalaya Times and Nepal Samacharpatra. Now a new paper called Spacetime Dainik has been launched. Spacetime is published by Space Time Publication Ltd and contains 12 pages of which two are in colour. It is a sister organisation of Space Time Network, the strongest player in the cable TV arena. Bahadur Krishna Tamrakar is the chairman, Jamim Shah the managing director and Sri Acharya the chief editor.

The marketing strategy of Space Time has aroused everyone's curiosity. The Space Time network delivers more than three dozen channels to customers through its cable network and covers the whole spectrum of readers, age groups and interests. Space Time TV subscribers are going to get a free copy of Spacetime Dainik delivered to their doorstep for a year. Managing director Shah said that the monthly fee for cable TV (Rs 200) and the installation cost (Rs 1000) is not going to be raised for one year, which means that for the same Rs 200 per month, customers will be getting both cable TV and papers delivered home. It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 customers of Space Time TV in the valley. It will, however, be some time before all Space Time subscribers get their free copies since the printing press that is being used cannot print so many copies. But modern "heat set web" presses are in the process of being ordered and Shah estimates that the paper will break even within a year. Total investment during that period is going to be around Rs 150 million.

Gorkhapatra seems to be in the worst position among the dailies. It is under government control and the main reason for its poor performance is weak management. It has long had a monopoly over government advertising but once these ads started going out to the private media too, it had financial problems. Now, it too, is in the process of importing new and modern equipment.

Nepal Samacharpatra faced a crisis of capital from the very beginning and had not been able to grow to its potential. But now the paper is in the process of bringing in new investors. It is one of the many publications of Kamana Publications and Printers and the editor/owner, Pushar Lal Shrestha, stated that after restructuring and introducing new capital, his share in the new Kamana Publishing Group would be 40 percent. Thirty percent has been bought by Kumud Dugar of the KL Dugar group and another 30 percent by Pasupati Murarkar of the Murarkar Group. According to the new agreement, Dugar and Murarkar are going to look after the management while Shrestha will handle the production.

"We were breaking even earlier also but because of the competition we felt we had to make more investments and that is why we looked for new partners," said Shrestha. Besides the daily paper, the Kamana group also publishes Kamana, Sadhana and Mahanagar. The infusion of money is already being seen in the Samacharpatra. From the earlier eight pages with two in colour, it is now 12 pages and four are colour.

Ever since its publication Himalaya Times has always lagged behind. One reason is that it started off with old machines. How it is going to react to the changes taking place among the competition is still not clear. SP Singh, considered the backbone of the success of Kantipur, has now taken over the marketing of Himalaya Times and this indicates that this paper too is moving with the times.

Having established itself truly and strongly in the print media with almost half a dozen publications, the Kantipur Group is slowly moving into other areas. It already has an FM station and is in the process of getting permission for TV. This is the only private publishing group that is making a profit at present.

There are enough possibilities for the growth of readers, but growth is limited when it comes to advertising. This means that all the papers in the market today may not be successful.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)