2016 has been a rotten year for many, but especially so for India’s largest news publishing companies. What was a slow and secular decline – number of interested readers, amount of time spent reading newspapers, advertiser interest, ad rates, the unwillingness of readers to pay for content online, ad-blockers etc. – got precipitated by the government’s surprise decision to “demonetize” 86% of the country’s currency on 8th November.
“A couple of weeks ago the topic for the annual LT Forum was the need for radical change as market conditions grow more challenging
– Now it is clear that this is only the beginning: demonetization has crashed an already declining market and no one can tell when conditions will improve
– It could be a few months, six months, or it could be longer – we have to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best…”
That was the opening part of an email sent on 6th December by Rajiv Verma, the CEO of HT Media, the publicly listed media group that publishes some of India’s largest newspapers like The Hindustan Times, Hindustan and Mint.