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Times Group to fight it out with Anandabazar Patrika in Bengal


It may well be the clash of the titans in West Bengal's media industry. The country's largest media conglomerate, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), also known as the Times group, is set to battle it out in the regional media space with Aveek Sarkar's family-owned Anandabazar Patrika (ABP). According to sources close to the development, the Times group is planning to launch a Bengali newspaper by the end of this year. Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer of BCCL, said, "We are keeping our possibilities open, nothing has been finalised yet. I do believe that West Bengal is a matured market for the newspaper industry. We are looking for portfolio expansion across the country."


While The Times of India is the largest broadsheet daily in the country, Anandabazar Patrika is the largest Bengali newspaper. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures, Anandabazar Patrika has a circulation of nearly 1,250,000, while its nearest competitor, Bartaman, has a circulation of 534,000 copies. Other major competitors in the vernacular space are Aajkaal, Sangbad Pratidin, Ganashakti, Sakalbela, Ekdin and NEWZ Bangla.


The plan to launch a Bengali daily is considered to be a move by the Times Group to position itself against ABP in the vernacular space. "In Bengali, we have two magazines, Samay and Udita, but these are part of our response team. It is true the group is planning to launch a newspaper, possibly by the end of the year. However, the name is not yet fixed," said a top BCCL official. The Times Group has a strong presence in regional markets, with dailies like Navbharat Times and Sandhya Times (evening tabloid) in Hindi, Maharashtra Times in Marathi and Vijaya Karnataka in Kannada. There were speculations that the Bengali newspaper would be named Samay and launched by August 15, but BCCL officials denied this. Sources confirmed that the hiring process had been initiated, though the group had not finalised on who would be the editor. Anandabazar Patrika, founded in 1922 by Prafulla Chandra Sarkar, is the largest read Bengali newspaper, with a readership of more than six million, according to Indian Readership Survey reports.(afaqs)

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