Coming Soon: Newsweek, Pakistan Edition

Posted on March 6, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Media Matters, Society
38 Comments
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Adil Najam

The news itself is old, but I just heard of it. It seems that a Pakistan Edition of American news magazine Newsweek is coming soon to a news stand near you. Reportedly, the initial run will be 30,000 copies – four times the current sales – and the first issue is expected in September.

Reportedly, the Pakistan edition will be managed by A.G. Publications – a subsidiary of the Associated Group (AG) – which itself is led by Fasih Ahmed, a former award-winning Newsweek correspondent for Pakistan and a former Daniel Pearl Fellow, who will also be the editor of the Pakistan edition. Accoridng to their website, the Associated Group is “was founded by Mr. Z.Z. Ahmed (1910-1989), former Deputy Inspector General of Pakistan Police, in 1965. Today, it is one of Pakistan’s premier business houses in the energy sector. Within the energy sector, AG has three lines of business-Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Power Generation and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).”

Newsweek has three international English language editions, including the one managed in Hong Kong which is now available in Pakistan. It also has a number of global editions published in regional languages (Arabic, Russian, Polish, etc.). However, it seems that Pakistan edition will be in English and aims, eventually, for a South Asian market, with both international and local content. Given that Indian laws regarding foreign publications are more stringent, it is speculated that although Newsweek is setting up shop in Pakistan, the real market it is eying is the much bigger Indian market.

More details of the Newsweek launch can be gleaned from this report in Financial Times by Farhan Bokhari:

Newsweek, a subsidiary of the Washington Post Company, is to launch a title for the Pakistan market, marking the first such move by a prominent western magazine in the country. Newsweek Pakistan, which will offer international and local content, is expected to hit the stands by September under a licence agreement with a local media company.

The English-language newspaper and magazine industry in Pakistan is far smaller than in neighbouring India. Some estimates suggest only 100,000 copies of English-language publications are sold a day in a country with a population of 180m. Existing English language titles include The Herald, Newsline, The Friday Times, The Dawn and The News. Pakistan imposes fewer regulatory restrictions on western media than India, which limits foreign ownership. In Pakistan, western media are able to enter the market and the only apparent restrictions are on Indian media organisations.

The media industry in Pakistan has become increasingly robust in the past decade as privately owned television channels have sprung up. Mainstream newspapers have increasingly adopted more liberal editorial policies. The restoration of Iftikhar Chaudhry as chief justice of Pakistan’s supreme court last year, two years after his controversial sacking by Pervez Musharraf, the former president, was assisted by a groundswell of public opinion that was fuelled by pressure from the media.

Young consumers from the middle and upper class are increasingly keen to access well-produced content in print and TV, according to market surveys conducted by advertisers. “Pakistan has a very vibrant media,” said Rhona Murphy, publisher and managing director of Newsweek International, adding that the launch of Newsweek Pakistan was part of a strategy to broaden out into different markets. Newsweek currently publishes three international editions. Newsweek Pakistan will be its eighth local edition published under licence in a country. It will start with a print run of 30,000 copies, four times its present circulation in Pakistan.

“Newsweek has a circulation of 7,500 per week – higher than any local news weekly or monthly – and this easily doubles when Pakistan makes the cover,” said Fasih Ahmed, managing director of AG Publications, a privately-owned media company that will publish Newsweek Pakistan. Ms Murphy said she expected the success of Newsweek Pakistan to prompt “our competitors to look at this market more closely … Pakistan is not a market where we have ever spent much energy developing. Clearly, there is an opportunity here.”

So, what do you make of this development for Pakistan’s already dynamic media scene (one where Dawn Television just had to abandon an English-only format for an eventually mostly-Urdu format)? Will this a good, bad, or just plain irrelevant development?

P.S. Thanks to Kalsoom of CHUP who mentioned this on her twitter feed.

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38 responses to “Coming Soon: Newsweek, Pakistan Edition”

  1. asad khan says:

    will your first issue care to cover my travail during z a bhuttos trial and afterwords or could i do it myself.i will appreciate hearing from you.

  2. How to contribute to the issue. I write on social,travel,literery issues in a light vein to entertain the readers. would you please tell me where to send the stuff for a little space in your magazine.

  3. Watan Aziz says:

    I am going to learn Russian!

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