Bennett, Coleman & Company is about to launch a daily aimed at the serious reader who wants in-depth analysis along with daily news.
Called Times Independent, the paper will be headquartered in Mumbai.
Initially, only a Mumbai edition will be launched. But Bennett, Coleman planned to take the paper to other cities later, company sources said. A Bennett, Coleman source in New Delhi, too, confirmed that a new paper was in the offing.
Set to be launched on May 1, 2005, Times Independent will be the first new newspaper to hit the stands in Mumbai in recent years.
But at least two, if not three, other newspapers are scheduled to be launched in Mumbai between July and the end of this year -- a new English general daily promoted by a joint venture between Zee and the Dainik Bhaskar group, New Delhi's Hindustan Times and the Kolkata-based ABP group's The Telegraph.
The city already has three general dailies (The Times of India, The Indian Express and Asian Age) and an afternoon paper, Mid-Day.
Some observers argue that the new newspaper is Bennett, Coleman's response to the fierce media war that will break out in the coming months in Mumbai.
Members of the Jain family, which owns the company, have in the past talked of a "flotilla theory" -- when a warship is under attack, ensure that another warship is around to distract the enemy.
In the early 1990s, Bennett, Coleman launched The Independent in response to industrialist Vijaypat Singhania's Indian Post. Both papers eventually closed.
Explaining the need for another newspaper, Bennett, Coleman sources said The Times of India was not read by people who were looking for serious news and it had become a paper for the youth.
So, the new paper was meant for readers in the 40-plus age group, they said.
Sources familiar with the project said between 40 and 50 people would be working for the Mumbai edition of the new paper, while another five to six reporters would be working out of Delhi. Gradually, staff will be hired or assigned for other major metros and cities according to the requirements there.
The paper will have specific segments concentrating on the main news of the day, sports, business, science and technology, lifestyle, fashion and so on. The major news reports of the day will also carry an analysis along with them.
Pull-outs, supplements and other leisure reading fare were still being thought of, sources said. They said launching a national paper would not really cut into The Times of India's readership as the new newspaper was aimed at a totally separate set of readers.