Newspaper distributors in Gurgaon went on a strike on Friday over an offer made by an e-commerce website that it will distribute them at a much cheaper rate than what is currently being charged.
No newspaper reached homes in Gurgaon and Manesar areas on Friday morning after distributors and vendors refused to supply them in protest. Distributors claim the offer by the online portal would hamper their trade. The website had placed advertisements about its offer in leading English dailies over the past week.
"The change will affect our business and is not sustainable. We chose to show our protest in Gurgaon as most of the heads of departments and media organisations as well as advertisers live here," said Mukesh Satija, one of the distributors.
While newspapers were unloaded at some stations, in most areas in New Gurgaon - including DLF phases and Sikanderpur - the newspaper trucks were returned to the press.
There are about 15 centres - about 8-10 centres in New Gurgaon and nearly five in Old Gurgaon areas including Palam Vihar - from where newspaper are received and distributed in the city. About three lakh newspapers, including English and Hindi dailies, are distributed in Gurgaon and Manesar daily.
Media houses have extended their support to the distributors, stating that the alternate e-commerce initiative does not fit in with the current trade model. Distributors as well as media organisations held meetings on Friday to negotiate and discuss future course of action.
"We are not switching business from our loyal distributors and they just don't have anything to worry about. We are happy with the vendors and it is not easy to just shift to a new channel of distribution," said a spokesperson from HT Media Limited.
Residents of Gurgaon are worried about circulation over the weekend as many prefer a leisurely read on holidays.
"Newspapers are important in my house and we subscribe to four newspapers. My father-in-law's day starts with a newspaper and a cup of tea and my children read it after school for improving language," said Namita Singh, a resident of DLF phase 1, Gurgaon.
Several big and small distributors have come together to show support against the alternate online channel of distribution.
While talks are on to break the deadlock, a decision on the issue is expected by the evening.
“We are not breaching the current circulation chain. In fact, we are sourcing the newspapers from the local vendors themselves. We know that it is difficult to work without local vendors and we have been supplying them," said Randhir Kumar, founder and CEO of 24x7fresh.in.
He added that the portal is receiving over 100 queries from Gurgaon every day and they have already started newspaper circulation in households through local vendors. The website aims at providing doorstep services of daily morning household needs that include bread, milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits and newspaper.