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New avenues for spare capacity utilisation

Earlier, newspapers could not even think of producing another newspaper title on their machines, but things have drastically changed and now they are not only printing other newspapers at their night shifts, they even make required adjustments to meet their own deadlines as well as that of the customers. Varsha Verma explores this progressive trend.

RC Malhotra
Many newspapers like The Hindu have shut down their print facilities in Delhi and are relying on outsourcing. Business Standard does not own its printing unit and again get it outsourced. So do many weeklies, fortnightlies and monthlies.

“Most of the newspapers today, with their own printing set-ups, are doing outside print jobs,” tells RC Malhotra, all India controller, production, The Indian Express, Noida. “There is lot of competition in newspaper segment and many newspapers have come up with low circulations. But many of these do not have their own printing facilities. Similarly, newspaper publishers in south India, who wish to expand their circulation in Delhi/NCR, get their newspapers printed here locally and vice versa.”

“As long as cover price of a newspaper is not increased, there will not be any noticeable reduction in the number of newspapers. As the ad volume is decreasing, the number of pages has decreased. Even the common man can afford a newspaper as it is a small price to pay and he even recovers part of the price by selling the old newspapers.”

–RC Malhotra, all India controller,
production, The Indian Express, Noida
“And it is a profitable business for sure. There is no addition of manpower or machines. The same set of people and machines can print other newspaper titles,” he adds. This has become an additional business opportunity and sometimes, newspapers make adjustments with their delivery times to accommodate more jobs. “Nobody wants to miss the opportunity. As such, printing slots are generated accordingly,” shares Malhotra.

Interestingly, at The Indian Express, Noida the production department started taking up such outside print jobs. The volume became so high that the top management also started focusing seriously on it. “As a matter of fact, we do Rs 1.5 crore worth business of outside jobs every month,” he tells.

During night shifts, The Indian Express prints newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, Deccan Herald, Naya India, etc at their Noida printing facility while they print many weeklies, fortnightlies and monthlies in their day shifts.

But, like all businesses, this activity too has its own challenges. First, being the payment issue. “As a policy, other than the known newspapers, we print on ‘cash & carry’ basis. There have been instances in the past when publishers shift to another press because they defaulted on payments,” he explains. Second major challenge remains the competition faced by contract printers doing only job work. “Such presses offer very low rates, which presses like ours, find difficult to match,” adds Malhotra.

Despite all odds, it is a remunerative venture. Many of the newspapers like Hindustan Times have a dedicated department looking after outside print jobs. Well, cost-effectiveness and diversification are the keywords in every industry and this seems to be an interesting option for newspaper printers to combat the effects of economic slowdown.


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