Times of India mulls Mirror to stymie Mid-Day

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Close on the heels of its "success" in Bombay with Mumbai Mirror, there are rumours that Bennett, Coleman & Co is planning to launch Bangalore Mirror to counter the threat posed by the launch of India's No. 1 afternoon tabloid, Mid-Day, in Bangalore next month.

Mumbai Mirror was launched as a stand-alone "compact" paper last year to take on the tabloid Mid-Day, shortly before the launch of DNA and Hindustan Times in the metropolis. But the tepid reaction to the paper—for which bossman Samir Jain himself went out to journalism schools to recruit potential journalists—saw ToI do a quick about-turn.

Instead of shutting it down, Mumbai Mirror was issued free with the Times of India. The National Readership Survey says ToI has tasted some success with the strategy, as price-conscious readers are getting two papers—one a "serious" broadsheet, the other a peppy compact—for the price of one, preventing them from shifting to DNA or HT.

With the Bangalore market hotting up, Mid-Day is slated for launch next month and Deccan Chronicle has already earmarked Rs 25 crore for a Bangalore edition, ToI is reportedly planning to launch Bangalore Mirror, to keep local retailers and classified advertisers (the staple of tabloids worldwide) from turning towards Mid-Day.

Whether Bangalore Mirror will be issued free with ToI is uncertain at the moment, indeed unlikely since the broadsheet ToI in Bangalore is a tabloid in all but size, but its possible entry makes a messy media market even messier.