References for The Hindu’s lies on circulation numbers

A compilation report on the lies propagated by The Hindu News paper of Chennai, India


DC: The king of South

May 27th, 2009

By Our Correspondent
Tags: Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad

Deccan Chronicle is the largest circulated English newspaper in all of South India. An analysis of figures put out recently by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the industry body that audits newspapers sales, shows that Chronicle is the clear leader in the south.

The competition? There is The Hindu that sold 14,53,405 copies daily in the July-December 2008 period. And Chronicle sold 13,33,668 every day in that period. So how does that make Chronicle the southern superstar?

Here is how. The Hindu sold 1,16,851 copies in Delhi. That means its south editions, minus the Delhi circulation, sold 13,36,554. Isn’t that still more than the Chronicle total?

Yes it is, but there is a caveat. The Hindu sold 2,30,688 copies in schools. These copies could be priced differently. In some instances, a separate newspaper is made for the schools. But all the copies are included in the ABC audit, albeit under a separate heading but sum up to the total circulation.

Minus the school copies from the southern circulation, The Hindu totals 11,05,866 copies in the south. Deccan Chronicle sells 13,33,668 copies in the south, all sold directly to subscribers. Another dimension that makes us the leader is that The Hindu sells 1,93,115 in Kerala. Factor that in, and Chronicle is miles ahead.

What about The Times of India? The Times does not submit all its editions to audit every time, something we at Chronicle do religiously.

The Times of India’s Bengaluru edition is audited but not its Chennai edition. So there is no figure to go by, and it is best to drop it for comparison. There’s also Deccan Herald in Karnataka but they are far behind our Bengaluru edition in sales.

Dear reader, know that you are with the King of the South. It means you are with the paper that has been brought out with painstaking effort. Because we know what it means to be the leader to the reader.

We are the paper that the AP reader, the Tamil Nadu reader and the Karnataka reader, as different as can be, want with their chai, with their kafi. And we manage to be all this without losing our southern spice.

DC sets record in Bengaluru

Deccan Chronicle, Bengaluru, is the fastest growing newspaper to the Advertiser in Indian history. In just seven months since its launch, the newspaper has notched a daily average circulation of 2,43,147 copies, certified by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an independent auditor of newspaper circulation figures.

Chronicle was launched in Bengaluru on May 26, 2008, and the ABC figures pertains to daily average sales between July and December 2008. For the record, Chronicle sold a daily average of 1,06,717 copies in the first 36 days of launch.

The newspaper from all its editions added 2,61,440 copies over the last six months, growing at about 24.38 per cent. That means the Chronicle family grew by 43,573 buyers every month. In Hyderabad alone, Chronicle sells 5,26,382 copies, and 7,84,062 in all of AP. That indicates a gain of 36,266 over the previous six months in the state. The Chennai edition sold 3,06,432 copies in the July-December 2008 period, and is logging gains.

All of this has not been easy. You, our reader and our advertiser, demand only the best. Naturally, that is Deccan Chronicle. We promise to keep that in mind as we go forward.

Circulation wars: Hindu takes on Deccan Chronicle

Chronicle claims sales of 2.5 lakhs, Hindu disputes it.

May 8, 2006

Barely a year after its assault on Fort Chennai, Deccan Chronicle seems to have rattled Old Lady Hindu. The issue in question is Deccan Chronicle’s circulation in Chennai. For decades, The Hindu had a steely grip on the English newspaper readers in Chennai. At that time, Hindu did not seem the Deccan threat important enough to take on.

David proved smarter than Goliath. Deccan Chronicle went to the stands at a price of Re 1. This sharp undercutting was the first sign that Chronicle was seriously into battle. The Hindu initially thought of cutting cover price, and then decided against it. It also announced an introductory offer of Rs 99 for an year of Chronicle. Deccan Chronicle also went for an IPO, to raise resources for the battle ahead.

Now, newspapers fix advertisement tariffs based on their circulation figures. The higher the circulation, the steeper the tariffs. For higher circulation, newspapers, for ages, have been known to use underhand tactics like printing newspaper which won’t be sold, cooking the circulation books and appeasing hawkers to drive their own sales. Chronicle claims to have a hawker commission of 35 paise per copy, but Hindu now alleges it is much higher.

Things came to a head when Deccan Chronicle sought an ABC certificate for its Chennai circulation. Hindu sat up, and took notice. It was suspected for some time that Deccan Chronicle had been paying hawkers more commission than is allowed, to boost their circulation. If the circulation figures were artificially boosted by unethical means, then Chronicle’s attempt to gain a smarter ABC certificate had to be blocked. Hindu moved court.

In the Bombay High Court, Hindu submitted that the issue of an ABC certificate “would adversely affect the circulation and advertising revenues of The Hindu” and would “also adversely affect the business interests of The Hindu, which has a dominant market share in Chennai.” According to Hindu, “there is every possibility that their advertising market would be hampered” and claimed damages “on account of losses and hardships they suffered.”

However, ABC that it issues circulation certificates only after due auditing, verification, surprise checks. “During the first surprise audit in January 2006, we were satisfied with the maintenance of publishers’ books and records and had accordingly issued the Yellow Incoming Certificate containing the certified circulation figures of Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, for the audit period July-December 2005 based on audit of the second defendant’s books and records,” ABC said in court.

The Bombay High court did not grant Hindu’s plea for interim relief or a direction to ABC to stop releasing the certificate. The claim for damages was rejected too. The court, instead, gave four weeks’ time to Chronicle to reply to the Hindu petition. After that, Hindu gets two weeks to file a rejoinder.

Chronicle’s Chennai circulation, according to Hindu officials, cannot be more than 50,000 copies, compared to Hindu’s 3.5 lakh. However, Chronicle says that its circulation is nearly 2.5 lakh on weekdays and nearly 3 lakh on Sundays. Clearly, there is a huge divergence there. Regardless of whether ABC finally issues the circulation certificate to Chronicle or not, it is clear that for the first time, the southern titan has been challenged and rattled in its own stronghold. It’s a battle worth watching.

The man behind Deccan Chronicle’s success

Surajeet Das Gupta

November 12, 2005

T Venkattram Reddy has made a fetish of winning. His office in downtown Secunderabad has a glass case full of trophies picked up at the Hyderabad Race Club. But that is Reddy having his fun.

The 46-year old newspaper baron is gambling for more serious stakes when it comes to work. While everyone has been focused on the mother of all newspaper wars in Mumbai, the chairman of Deccan Chronicle has quietly unleashed an operation in Chennai to rattle the foundations of one of India’s oldest and most respectable papers, The Hindu. If his audacious plans succeed, he could pull off a spectacular media coup.

Before you scoff at this outlier’s chances, take a look at how he has moved into one of the inside tracks.

Five years ago, the Deccan Chronicle was a not very distinguished single-state player in Andhra Pradesh, selling about 140,000 copies and occupying a modest 10th spot in the all-India English newspaper rankings – certainly not one of the big boys in the media game.

Today, he sells 400,000 copies in Andhra Pradesh and claims to be selling another 300,000 in neighbouring Tamil Nadu – where he launched in May – making him the country’s fourth largest English newspaper.

If you believe his numbers (his rivals question them) and add the circulation of The Asian Age, in which he recently acquired a 90 per cent stake, the combined circulation of his English newspapers (which have started sharing resources and even pages) comfortably crosses 800,000.

In other words, he may be within shouting distance of both The Hindu and The Hindustan Times, which sell about 10.5 lakh (1 million) copies each. In the great newspaper sweepstakes, the Deccan Chronicle has emerged as the dark horse — and way ahead of such vaunted titles as Indian Express, The Telegraph, The Tribune and Deccan Herald.

His financial performance has been equally breathtaking. When he priced his public share offering at Rs 162 per share late last year, many people thought the issue was hopelessly overpriced — with a price-earning multiple of 26 that was roughly twice the then Sensex average.

But in his latest quarterly results, Reddy has shown a stellar 91 per cent growth in sales and 51 growth in profits, so his share price has actually soared to Rs 300 — in telling comparison with the Hindustan Times, which has seen its share price dip from its initial offer price.

None of this seemed a likely scenario five years ago, when Reddy was being challenged on his modest home turf by both The Hindu and The Times of India.

Instead of keeling over like other regional papers have done in the face of an onslaught from national titles, Reddy changed gear and put on a burst of speed — adding pages, dropping price, introducing colour, and bringing in M J Akbar as his new editor.

In no time at all, his sales soared and, equally importantly, he retained leadership in the state. Adds M J Akbar, group chief editor, “We designed a paper that was content heavy. We have the maximum number of fully thought-through pages and a complete arc of news. It is a glocal paper, with local plus global news. Our research showed that the age group between 18-35 years was not being addressed by The Hindu; that was the market we aimed at.”

In many ways, the flamboyant Venkattram Reddy is the unsung newspaper baron who sharpened his teeth warding off The Times of India challenge in Andhra Pradesh.

Now he jokes: “I am used to battles. In Andhra, I was to be obliterated, first by The Hindu, then by Indian Express, followed by Newstime, and The Times of India, but I survived all that.” Today, he is still the leader in Hyderabad by a mile. And acquisitions in Karnataka may give him a footprint in that state.

Having protected his home turf, Reddy decided last year to take the next step and go on the offensive — and again surprised the big boys by getting one step ahead of them.

Everyone thought it would be The Times of India that would take on The Hindu in Chennai, but Reddy jumped the starter gun while The Times of India was still in the paddock.

The result has been a welter of claims, accusations and counter-accusations. The 125-year-old Hindu sells 10.47 lakh (1.05 million) copies across the country, of which 264,000 are in its Chennai fortress. Astonishingly enough, Reddy says he already sells 3 lakh copies from Chennai, less than six months after launch.

Now, if everyone would just believe him. Deccan Chronicle in Chennai is yet to get an independent audit done by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (which requires that it complete a six-month period first); almost everyone in the newspaper business exaggerates numbers; and Reddy has not always had his numbers accepted by auditors without a second look.

N Murali, joint managing director of The Hindu, says that the Deccan Chronicle’s claims about a ramped up circulation are no more than clever artifice, that the Re 1 paper (in comparison with Rs 3.25 charged by The Hindu) doesn’t reach readers at all, because it’s more profitable for hawkers to sell it as waste paper.

“Given the highly lucrative deal offered to distributors, I would reserve our estimation on sales at the reader end,” chips in Manoj Kumar Sonthalia, chairman and managing director of Express Publications (Madurai) which publishes The New Indian Express in Chennai and other southern centres. “Our circulation has grown after Deccan Chronicle’s entry into Chennai.”

Bunkum, retorts Reddy. For one, he isn’t offering distributors a 60 per cent margin, as his competitors allege. And once he gets his ABC certification for the July-December period, the circulation figures will speak for themselves. “We have already run out of printing capacity,” he says, “forcing me to divert one of the printing presses that was to be installed in Trichy to Chennai as an interim measure. The new press in January will double printing capacity to 600,000 copies a day.”

Old style readers may continue to prefer The Hindu’s sedate approach to news, its excellent production qualities and its high-brow opinion pieces (Karunanidhi once referred to the paper as the “Mahavishnu of Mount Road”), to the Deccan Chronicle’s loud headlines and earthy content, but there is little doubt that the battle has been joined – and only partly because of the pricing games that Reddy has played (ICICI [Get Quote] card-holders, for instance, can buy a whole year’s copies of the Deccan Chronicle for just Rs 99).

Reddy insists that his sights are set on big numbers. He hopes to hawk no fewer than 500,000 copies of the Deccan Chronicle from Chennai in the next six months. Then in April, the Deccan Chronicle will challenge The Hindu for leadership in the larger Tamil Nadu market.

Two presses in Coimbatore and Trichy will have the ability to rustle up print runs of 2 lakh a day each. So what is Reddy aiming for? “By April-May next year,” he puffs contentedly at his cigar, “we will become the No. 3 English daily in the country. With Coimbatore and Trichy, we will overtake The Hindu.”

Cocky? That’s pure Reddy. But his next move is likely to be even more audacious. With the newspaper war moving out of Mumbai to the south (The Times of India is moving into Chennai, and Daily News and Analysis is expected to add Bangalore to its Mumbai print base), Reddy is readying a move in the opposite direction by charging into Mumbai and re-launching The Asian Age.

But why Mumbai, where both DNA and the Hindustan Times have quickly lost fizz after a lot of launch-related noise? Because, says Reddy, 25 per cent of the Deccan Chronicle’s advertising revenues come from Mumbai-based companies.

They could now get a beachhead in Mumbai by paying only a small premium (instead of the high ad rates offered by competitors). Besides, The Asian Age already has a presence in the city and he has to just build on that, hoping after the re-launch to do about a lakh copies in the city.

As preparation for the coming battles, the Deccan Chronicle has cash reserves and a comfortable cash flow with which to take on The Times of India.

Ask him how he plans to take on its impending launch in Chennai, and he is dismissive: “We will see when they come; we already have a head start over them.”

Meanwhile, taking a leaf out of The Times of India group’s book on deal-making, Reddy has bought the retail store chain Odyssey for Rs 61 crore (Rs 610 million). He hopes to expand the 12-store chain by adding 10 more outlets, mostly in the south, and increasing turnover to Rs 100 crore (R 1 billion).

The purchase has unusual logic to back it. Reddy explains that the stores are stacked with products from well-known companies who are also his key advertisers. The quid pro quo? If they tie-in with exclusive advertising deals with the Deccan Chronicle, they get premium display space in the stores.

“He fashions himself on Vijay Mallya,” says a Hyderabad-based businessman, “and likes the good things in life — cars, horses, watches, the choicest cigars.”

He drives a Porsche Cayenne S, and friends say he picked up a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph watch recently. Those who disapprove of his brashness say he can be a boor; he certainly did something to upset the Congress party, which did not offer him a second term in the Rajya Sabha.

Joining his father’s business at 21 (his father Chandrasekhar Reddy was a businessman and a Congress politician), he decided to sell most of the 20-odd sectors because they were too diverse, ranging from aluminum foils to soft drink bottling plants and hotels, even making money printing the Bible.

The result was flak from Hyderabad’s social set who saw him as a brash upstart.

Among the many businesses he exited was as a bottler for Ramesh Chauhan’s Parle. Today, Reddy chuckles, “Getting into businesses is easy, but the important thing is to know when to get out of it and make money.”

Of course, he learnt a few tricks of the trade from Ramesh Chauhan, who told him he would never let bottlers become so big that they could dictate terms to him. Reddy says the same lesson holds good in the newspaper distribution system.

Like his father, he dabbled in politics too.

A Rajya Sabha MP with the Congress in the early ’90s, he (according to political watchers) is using his newspaper now to build bridges with the Congress rival and Telegu Desam supremo, Chandrababu Naidu — of whom Reddy has been bitterly critical in the past. Reddy rubbishes these allegations. “My being in the political system has nothing to do with the paper. We run the paper on what people want, not what the owners want.”

But what do advertisers want? The Hindu says the Deccan Chronicle’s entry has made little difference to the market, and it certainly hasn’t had to trim its ad rates. Insists Murali: “In its Chennai edition, the Deccan Chronicle’s advertising is quite insignificant, covering only 15 per cent of the total space.”

The Hindu, however, is cashing in on its editorial quality and its 125 years of tradition, apart from adding new supplements and more colour pages to ward off the challenge. Sonthalia of the Express says he will leverage bilingual strength in the Tamil Nadu market with Tamil brands like Dinamani to take on the Deccan Chronicle.

Media experts acknowledge the churn created by the Deccan Chronicle’s foray into Chennai, but report little evidence of any radical shift in advertising. Says Meenakshi Madhwani, media auditor, Spatial Access: “The Deccan Chronicle has made some dent in the retail market but it does not appear that The Hindu is losing great volumes.”

Avers Naresh Alambara, general manager of a media buying house in Chennai: “Retail players are considering Deccan Chronicle if they cannot afford The Hindu, or want to reach a specific sub-segment. Exclusive ads are hard to come by.”

Adds Himangshu Shekhar, investment director in Mindshare Fucrum, another media buying agency: “As of today, no one can bypass The Hindu and have a robust print plan, but perhaps some advertisers see pricing benefits due to bundling with Deccan Chronicle’s Andhra edition.”

That encourages Ambareesh Baliga, vice president of Karvy Stock Broking, to say, “Deccan Chronicle has targeted Chennai and other south Indian markets to capture the large colour ad market and increase its blended ad rates in the mid term. Also, Tamil Nadu does not have many pan-India English dailies, so it will be a lot easier to make money than in Mumbai or Delhi.”

But others warn that Reddy needs to be vigilant as newsprint prices are rising again. Says J Shah, head of research in Mumbai-based KRC Research, “They are sitting with a large cash flow, but the major challenge will be the increase in newsprint prices, which might effect profitability as well as margins.”

But finance director P K Iyer of Deccan Chronicle counters: “The effect of newsprint is over-played.” A premium for advertising in colour, he says, should reasonably offset it.

As you walk out of his headquarters in Hyderabad, Reddy shows you his mini-museum of old printing machines. He explains that a scrap dealer was willing to pay only Rs 20,000 for the six machines. For that price, Reddy says, it made more sense to keep them, if only as museum pieces.

But for now, Reddy is only alive to the future. Would he like to be remembered as the newspaper baron who came out of nowhere to take on the southern newspaper titan? “You have to move on,” he quips. “Some day we might want to be No. 1.”

Additional reporting by Sanjiv Shankaran in Chennai and Sonali Krishnan in Mumbai


Hindu has been recently taken over by the Joshua Society in Berne, Switzerland. Edited by the Communist Sinophile N. Ram. He also edits the newspaper’s fortnightly Marxist magazine FRONTLINE. THE HINDU is known in Chennai (Madras) variously as “The Sapper” (because it supported the British during the struggle for Indian independence) and “The Old Widow of Mount Road” (because of its lugubrious, cliche-ridden style of writing and incomprehensible editorials). More recently it has aquired the title “China’s National Newspaper in India”. edition ,to put it midly,sucks.Even vernacular dailies in Tamil Nadu like Dinamalar have better online edition.Its attempt to increase the readership by re-designing the layout did nothing to increase its readership but only managed to incur the wrath of its loyal readership

What I really enjoyed recently was the newsapaper ‘s editorial on the factional feud in Kerala CPM .It was violent street side war between the warring factions.The newspaper totally blacked out the violent incidents (like it did with Lavalin corruption case involving CPM bigwigs).But when Karat announced that Acthunathan will contest ,signalling temporary end to the crisis ,Ram was joyous .The next day editorial was titled “All is well that ends well” (the readers still remembered the title of editorial on the BJP intra party affairs -“What a Lovely War”)

Atleast TOI/Hindustan Times have no intellectuall l pretensions.But The Hindu always protrays itself to be respectable newspaer committed itself to journalistic integrity