Magazines Turn To Ukrainian

KIEV, Ukraine -- Responding to growing public demand for Ukrainian-language publications, KP Media, a major player on the Ukrainian print media market, has been forging ahead with plans to introduce Ukrainian-language magazines into a market long dominated by Russian-language publications.

Olga Kryzhanovska, the chief editor of the soon-to-be-launched Ukrainian-language news magazine Novynar.

KP Media, which publishes the Kyiv Post, currently boasts a portfolio of more than a dozen print titles and around the same number of top-rated websites, giving it around a 15 percent share of the print market and an estimated 50 percent share of the Internet market in Ukraine, according to an April equity research report by Kyiv-based investment bank Dragon Capital.

KP Media’s Pani, Ukraine’s first weekly Ukrainian-language women’s magazine, has enjoyed considerable success since its launch earlier this year, particularly in the Ukrainian-speaking western regions of the country, according to the company.

KP Media invested more than $1 million into the launch of Pani and plans to introduce to the market a total of four more Ukrainian-language print and Internet projects this year.

“For September, we plan to launch Novynar, a Ukrainian-language news weekly, and Vona, a women’s monthly. We believe that these will be top 20 magazines in Ukraine,” said KP Media director Jed Sunden.

Plans also call for the launch of the first instant messenger with a Ukrainian interface, BigmirICQ, and, the Ukrainian-language web version of the new news magazine.

“This is a huge market which has been traditionally underrepresented in terms of publications and Internet projects focused on them,” said Sunden.

“We believe Ukraine is a bilingual country. Whether it is 60-40 [percent] Russian or 50-50 Ukrainian, we notice there is a huge untapped market at present,” he added.

According to the Dragon Capital report, KP Media plans to boost its 2007 sales 70 percent year-on-year to $24.7 million through the expansion of its print-title portfolio, the launch of new revenue-generating websites and continued strong organic growth.

New print projects are expected to generate $5 million of total sales revenues this year.

Advertising revenues accounted for 74 percent of KP Media’s sales in 2006 and are set to remain a vital revenue source for the company in the coming years, the Dragon report said.

The company’s core market segment, print publications, attracted $169 million from advertisers in 2006, or 23 percent of the Ukrainian advertising market for that year.

The Dragon report forecast $217 million in advertising revenues for KP Media in 2007, an annual increase of 28 percent.

Concorde Capital, another Kyiv-based investment bank, reported in its daily newsletter Aug. 7 that KP Media saw 46 percent year-on-year growth in second quarter revenues this year to nearly $4.7 million.

“While revenues from publishing grew by around 40 percent, those from Internet projects surged by 115 percent to $750,000. KP hopes for further growth in revenues from the Internet segment in the third quarter of this year, as its website has reached a strategic agreement with Google to upgrade its email, search and AdSense advertising placement program,” the Concorde Capital report said.

Quality counts

Merely churning out new titles, however, may not satisfy the growing demand for Ukrainian-language publications on the market if the quality of the language itself is poor, according to Viktor Luhovyk, one of the analysts who carried out market research for Dragon’s April KP Media report.

“A lot will depend on the quality of such titles in terms of both editorial and language,” Luhovyk said.

“At present, a number of local Russian-language newspapers and magazines produce Ukrainian duplicates, but the quality of translated text in these publications is low and therefore discourages people who would prefer to read in Ukrainian, such as myself,” he said.

“Therefore, an original, creative and clever Ukrainian-language publication can be successful, but its success will be limited as long as a majority of the population in large cities prefers to use Russian and the distribution network outside large urban areas remains underdeveloped.”

Olga Kryzhanovska, the chief editor of the soon-to-be-launched Novynar, said that the publication of such titles as Novynar represents an important development for Ukraine.

“For years KP Media has been getting letters from readers who were asking it to launch a Ukrainian-language news publication. Really, isn’t it strange that 16 years after [Ukraine] declaring independence, there are so few Ukrainian-language publications on a national scale in Ukraine,” Kryzhanovska asked rhetorically.

Kryzhanovska said that while around 67 percent of Ukrainians consider Ukrainian their native language, newspapers and magazines in Ukraine have largely ignored the needs of this segment of the population.

She said that the Ukrainian-language media market is characterized by a considerable lack of quality publications.

“We hope that with the launch of new magazines we can somewhat fix this unbalance. Novynar will continue the tradition of impartial, balanced reporting that had been started by other publications of KP Media,” said Kryzhanovska, who worked as a journalist at KP Media’s anchor publication, the Kyiv Post, before moving on to an editing position with the company’s highly popular Russian-language news magazine Korrespondent.

Kryzhanovska said she hoped other publishing companies would follow suit, launching Ukrainian-language publications of their own, which “should put an end to the [feeling of] inferiority of Ukrainian-speaking readers to Russian-speaking readers.”

More market growth expected

Inna Kovtun, the chief editor of one of Ukraine’s most popular Russian-language business publications, Delovaya Stolitsa, said that Delovaya Stolitsa has considered publishing a Ukrainian-language version of the magazine, but added that the possible payback for such a publication would not be immediate.

Kovtun said that with the economic standing of Ukrainian speakers improving in the western and central regions of the country, advertisers were becoming more interested in those segments of the population.

“Besides, the western Ukrainian audience has always read more, which is why new [Ukrainian-language] projects have a future, especially in the social, political and entertainment segments,” she said.

Currently leading the print segment by advertising revenues are women’s magazines, general news and business publications, as well as entertainment titles, “which together account for more than half of total print adspend,” according to Dragon Capital.

Dragon said that the Ukrainian newspaper and magazine market would benefit from continued regional growth, as local consumer-oriented companies, such as banks, cellular operators and retail chains expand their networks nationwide, “which should be reflected in their advertising budgets.”

According to Dragon Capital, KP Media is Ukraine’s only stock-listed media company and the only Ukrainian publisher to date to have successfully integrated Internet-based products in its portfolio.

KP Media is a holding company that owns a 100 percent interest in KP Advertising, KP Publications, BigMir Internet, and Omega, and is a 49 percent partner in Formax Publications.

Source: Kyiv Post