Sorry for going AWOL over the past week, I told myself that I would not be a cynical bastard online and write only nice things over here. Oh, that and I've been hoofing around a bit. In Pune. And interviewing business tycoons till three in the morning (only one man in India will do that, so guess who he was). Last week will go down as one of the strangest weeks I've had in a while and it ended on a sour note for a variety of reasons.
Back to the media, the gossip about one channel being bought over or not being bought is carrying on, but here is what we're hearing - the valuations being asked by the promoter are far too high, and the buyer might wait for a total collapse in the advertising market before any purchase is made. But it is print where all the fun is happening of late, it seems that a couple of publications which went nuts adding subscribers over the past couple of years are actually cutting back circulation. Not only are pages being cut (the 32-28 move) but one paper believes that to be #2 it needs to cross just 20,000 not touch 40,000, and with high-paid editors to feed, they're halving their print run to that they can stay minty fresh!
Another couple of media groups are bleeding so much that subsidiary publications have been shut down but another group which launched several foreign publications (two actually) has been forced to re-look at those deals. However getting out of the deals will be nearly impossible without a penalty.
So is the age of the 100-page paper over? Actually with the price of newsprint where it is, don't be surprised if the massive supplements start shrinking and some of them actually shut down. As for all those great plans of starting new editions - such as DNA Bangalore, I guess those are on hold. The question is not if we are in bad times, which we are. But, whether we have seen the golden era of print in India and when the media upswing comes will the Internet play a bigger role, which I think it will. Anyway, I promise not to disappear again for a while.