Importance of language in Indian media

I was glad to read the article “Is there life after Vernacular Journalism” in Mint today. The article clearly shows the depth of knowledge Mrinal Pande has about media + Indian languages. Some excerpts,

Interestingly, the corporate world, having realized the market potential of the vernacular media as a vehicle for reaching the consumers in India’s small towns and rural markets, is now busy putting its money where its mouth has actually always been. This has ensured an era of plenty for Indian languages, particularly for Hindi, whose footprint covers 11 populous northern states. This means that the vernaculars have also (for the first time in our history ) become the language of power discourse within Parliament and the legislative assemblies.
Today, when leaders with unshakable vote banks such as Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar or M. Karunanidhi speak, they do so in the vernacular. And no one grimaces or smirks, everyone listens. When Karunanidhi’s daughter speaks in Hindi or Sushma Swaraj tries to speak in Kannada, people again nod appreciatively.
They quietly slot them as leaders with a pan-Indian appeal. Even in popular TV shows on English language channels, vernacular audiences frequently speak up in their own tongue now and are applauded for their views. No longer forced to accept that the topics and attitudes of the English media are the only standards of judgement; they are now far less prickly when fielding naïve queries about Urdu papers’ stand on Kashmir or the quality of Hindi journalism or Marathi blogs.
Recently we launched the language versions of cricket ball by ball coverage on We have been planning to do this for a while, finally decided to take the plunge.  We have received very good response for the language versions of ball-by-ball coverage. Many users have written to us expressing their excitement in reading cricket scores in their language on the net. Some users have given us some additional suggestions on improving our product.
The circulation of Print media (newspapers) is split the following way,
  • English – 34%
  • Hindi –  25%
  • Tamil + Telugu + Kannada + Malayalam – 24%
The ad revenue from the print media is split approximately in the same ratio. Print media saw growth mainly from mini-metros (19%) and non-metros (14%) which is a total of 33% (well, not trying to show off my adding skills!). Where as the growth from metros was just 12%. I expect to see a similar surge in growth of online user base from mini-metros and non-metros. I am sure the advertisers would love it.


On the online space no advertiser has any inhibitions about advertising on language portals. We faced this problem in 2002 but we have continuously demonstrated to our advertisers that advertising on language portals does pay off. You reach a different segment of people which they had never targeted before.  It is a matter of time before the broadband penetration reaches most parts of India and then the non-English speaking user base will outgrow the English speaking user base in India in the coming years. What better medium than the internet and mobile for advertisers to reach these users?


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.