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Huffington Post plans India edition; launch in May

PTI | January 23, 2014, 17.01 pm IST

Davos: US-based leading online newspaper Huffington Post is planning to launch an India edition by May this year and negotiations are currently underway to finalise a local partner for this venture.

"We are working very hard on our India edition. We are in negotiations right now and we hope to launch it in May," Huffington Post CEO Jimmy Maymann said here.

Starting with English language, the India online edition would also eventually offer news in other local languages, Maymann told PTI on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Having established itself as a major media force in India through its namesake online newspaper, Huffington Post has already begun its expansion in other markets with ten international editions already under its stable. It has just launched a new section called, World Post.

"We are also launching a Brazil edition next week, to be followed by South Korea in about a month's time," Maymann said, while adding that he was waiting for a government clearance in South Korea.

Without disclosing the name of its prospective partners in India, the Huffington Post CEO said that it has got a couple of options, but the negotiations have reached almost final level and a deal was very close to be finalised.

"All the international markets that we have gone to, have been with partners," he said, while adding that having a partner in India would also make it easier to do business there because of the domestic legislations.

Asked about the areas that its India edition would focus on, he said these would include broadly four categories -- politics, lifestyle, entertainment and business and technology, which are also the key focus areas for its US edition.

But a final decision would be taken after discussing the same with the partner as each market has different requirements, he said.

"We want to be global, but while being local," he said, adding the India edition would first begin in English language and followed by in other languages.

Huffington Post's Video Streaming Network President Roy Sekoff said that its strategy for all offices across the world has been that it never sends people to outside bureaus and it is the local journalists from that area who work for it.

Its international editions currently include Canada, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Japan. "Currently, we have 95,000 unique visitors every month and of those 44 per cent are from international markets," he said. 

The World Post will focus a lot on conversations with big newsmakers, including Prime Ministers, Political leaders, Nobel prize winners from across the world, while video live-streaming would be a different section there.

Sekoff said that Huffington Post was interested in doing both long-form news and the shorter ones such as 10,000-word pieces to 140-character news and videos with length of 15 seconds to even 12 hours.

"There is demand for both formats and we want to do both to cater to the demand of the consumer," he said.

Asked whether Huffington Post would always be online, CEO Jimmy Maymann said it was difficult to think why it would ever want to get into print media as it always wanted to be online and that was its basic idea.

On whether it would always remain free, he said eventually there might be some products that it might charge for, but there were no such plans as of now, because the focus was more on building a global business to get a global scale.

"I cannot see that in the next three years or so we will build a product that is so sophisticated that audience would like to pay for.

"Our model is working very well right now and we are very happy with this model and probably we can even make more money by putting more people on our platform. So, right now we do not have any plans to charge for news. Probably the entire industry would also need an entirely new model to start charging for news," Maymann said. 

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