1991...In a move away a from the 1955 decision by the cabinet to bar foreign media companies from operating in India, the Indian Government announces it will allow foreign press to operate in the country’s ‘mind-market’. This leads to a welter of protest, forcing the Government to drop the move. Foreign networks continue to broadcast to India from abroad and publishers sell editions printed abroad.
June 2005...The Indian Government widens foreign investment in the print media, which allows foreign institutional investors, overseas Indians and portfolio investors to invest in the print sector. Information minister Jaipal Reddy says foreign holdings will continue to be limited to a 26 per cent share of the total to ensure local ownership. Condé Nast India is one of the first companies established under the new rules. The Government decides to keep its ban on the publication of Indian editions of foreign newspapers.
July 2007...By 2007 bigger stacks of glossy magazines are hitting the newsstands in India as an increasing number of foreign titles launch. However, tough ownership rules and low advertising yields are keeping a lid on profits. Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Maxim, Time Out and others are already on the stands, with more in the wings. Condé Nast looks to capitalise on the growth by launching a number of its upmarket titles. The publisher announces plans to launch Vogue by September. It also begins seeking regulatory approval for several other magazines.
January 2010...Condé Nast Traveller announces it will finally make its debut with an October issue. Unlike Vogue and GQ, Condé Nast Traveller India will only be available to affluent Indian readers every two months. The bi-monthly issue will be priced at Rs100 (US$1.53).
Fast forward...It remains to be seen whether the Indian Government will further relax foreign investment in the press sector. If it does competition could heat up very quickly for Condé Nast. Lonely Planet, for example, one of the world’s most popular travel brands, selling 6.5 million guidebooks annually, is also scheduled to launch its travel magazine. The Lonely Planet magazine will be published by Worldwide Media, a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Times Group.
This article was originally published in the 11 February 2010 issue of Media.