Sunday, June 14, 2009

Amar Ujala launches Lucknow edition

With its long-awaited launch in Lucknow, Amar Ujala has stirred the stagnant market of Hindi daily newspapers in the heartland.

It has started with 2.1 lakh copies that make it number 1 from the day of launch. Dainik Jagran sells 2 lakh followed by Hindustan (1.5 lakh) followed by Rashtriya Sahara (50,000) and Aaj (45,000).

Though the circulation which it has achieved is through marketing gimmick: Subscribers were given a juice set or non-stick pan for Rs 150 and Rs 350 respectively for six months and a year subscription of paper, which makes the paper almost free. However, such promotional schemes are not new and all newspaper use them for getting entry in the market.

Interestingly, the Group editor Shashi Shekhar said that a pre-launch survey revealed that 99% of readers found the Hindi dailies of Lucknow as biased. Time will tell, which paper will emerge the leader but as far as biased coverage is concerned, Amar Ujala has been equally notorious as Jagran and Aaj.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Amar Ujala also played an important role in fanning communalism across Uttar Pradesh through its inflammatory and false reporting during the coverage of LK Advani's Rath Yatra, demolition of Babri Masjid and later years.

But then, as the saying goes...Hammam mein sab nange hain (everybody is naked in the bathroom)....It is the same Lucknow where dozens of journalists took money from Mulayam Singh Yadav and the names of the recipients were disclosed in the Assembly.

So dark chapters of journalistic history are nothing new. Let's not talk about honesty or values. Newspaper is also a commodity now, just like a toothpaste or a detegent which has to be sold anyhow. Lucknowites now wait to see the new chapters that will be written in future by the newspapers and the journalists.

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