Mumbai: The Media Research Users Council (MRUC), a body that audits a crucial print readership study, the Indian Readership Survey (IRS), is working on a proposal that could change the way this biannual survey captures data.
The proposal, or white paper, is likely to suggest changes in methodology, an increased sample size and frequency, and special provisions to better capture data for offerings such as English language magazines.
The IRS Round1 2008 saw a declining trend in readership figures for most publications despite rising circulation. The white paper comes in the wake of various publishers of INS (Indian Newspaper Society) demanding a change in the way the survey is conducted after their figures went south in the most recent IRS results.
Most publishers want a change in the way the Indian Readership survey is conducted
MRUC’s general manager Sabina Solomon told Mint that the white paper was MRUC’s attempt to take note of the issues being raised and list ways to potentially make its survey more robust. Solomon said that the proposals would be drafted by all the three interested parties—publishers, advertising agencies and advertisers—and a special task force would be appointed for the purpose.
“In the recent meeting with INS, MRUC admitted that some changes needed to be made in the IRS, but were not clear on what the changes would be,” said a member of INS, who didn’t want to be identified. “The INS then asked them to draft a white paper on what they could do...”
Paresh Nath, deputy president of INS and publisher of Delhi Press, said that there was no specific time frame for MRUC to submit the proposal. Field work had already begun for the next round of the IRS.
I. Venkat, director of Hyderabad-based Eenadu Group, said that publishers are wrong in their thinking that rising circulation would automatically mean a rise in readership. “The airport lounge may be strewn with newspapers, but how many are read?” he asks.
Others, such as Maheshwar Peri, president and publisher, Outlook Group, fault the survey itself. “The field staff themelves are incompetent...also the questionnaires need to be shorter,” he says.